Disabled, Disadvantaged and Special Educational Needs (SEN) Learners Lecture


This chapter will highlight the different issues that practitioners face in the classroom, in terms of differentiation between different types of learners and the different challenges they face. The issue of how to cater for different learning needs both in the context of the classroom environment and that of outdoor spaces will be considered, as well as the different kinds of techniques which are most valuable in inclusive practice with different groups of learners.

Learning objectives for this chapter

By the end of this chapter, we would like you:

  • To understand the terms 'disabled', 'disadvantaged' and 'SEN'
  • To understand the differences between different types of learners
  • To identify different teaching and learning strategies that can be used both inside and outside the classroom
  • To identify different kinds of techniques which are most valuable in inclusive practice with different groups of learners

Get Help With Your Education Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional education essay writing service is here to help!

Get Help With Your Essay

Definition of Terms


Disability can be regarded as "… a physical or mental impairment… [that] has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal everyday activities" (Equality Act, 2010, p. 4).


Disadvantaged can be defined as "socially or economically deprived or discriminated against" (Collins English Dictionary, 2014), with disadvantaged pupils being those whose family, social, or economic circumstances impact upon their ability to learn at school (RAND Corporation, 2016). The longest standing measure of disadvantage is eligibility for free school meals (FSM) (Long and Bolton, 2015) although the definition can encompass "poverty and deprivation, disability, illness, abuse and neglect and behavioural problems" (Parliament Publications, 2011). For the purposes of this discussion, the disadvantaged will be thought of as those who are socially or economic deprived.


Children are deemed to have SEN if they have a learning issue which requires them to have special educational provision.

"Children have a learning difficulty if they:

  1. have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age, or
  2. have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the local education authority
  3. are under compulsory school age and fall within the definition at (a) or (b) above or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them.

Children must not be regarded as having a learning difficulty solely because the language or form of language of their home is different from the language in which they would be taught.

Special educational provision means:

  1. for children of two or over, educational provision which is in addition to, or otherwise different from, the educational provision made generally for children of their age in schools maintained by the LEA, other than special schools, in the area
  2. for children under two, educational provision of any kind."

      (Education Act, 1996, Section 312)


Look at these definitions: can you identify any potential issues which could arise as a result of considering each group as a part of a collective whole?

Differences between Disability, Disadvantaged Learners and SEN


Disability is an umbrella term which serves to corral different groups who face challenges in society (Hedlund, 2009). The World Health Organisation (WHO, 2016, para 2) regard disability as "… a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person's body and features of the society in which he or she lives … [necessitating] interventions to remove environmental and social barriers." It can, as a result of different policies, refer to individuals who have a reduced capacity or complete inability to engage in work, or to someone who is born with an illness or an age-related condition which could impact on anyone (Hedlund, 2009). These definitions vary according to the interpretation and attention that is given to different aspects of disability, and the perspective from which disability is being viewed. Individual ideologies are reflected in the different models that are applied to disability, which are intended to have a positive impact on the well-being of each individual and/or collective group.

Models of Disability

There are four distinct models of disability - medical, social, relative and cultural. The medical and social models will be explained in greater detail in chapter 4, but an overview is provided here:


The medical model views disability as a personal issue, with roots in specific illnesses, conditions or disabilities, which can be addressed through medical intervention or rehabilitation (Hedlund, 2009). This view of disability exclusively focuses on the problems of each individual medical condition in order to formulate a diagnosis of how problems it causes can be improved. For those who subscribe to this model, those affected are regarded as 'broken' and 'in need of repair' in order to be 'normal'. It has attracted criticism as a result of its focus upon individuals and their issues, as opposed to looking at their abilities and what they are able to do in spite of their difficulties. It precludes any consideration, as a result of a 'diagnosis', of an individual's potential, and highlights society's shortcomings in providing opportunities for those who have any form of disability.


The social model operates in direct opposition to the medical model. Rather than focusing attention on what people are not able to do (a deficit viewpoint), this model concentrates on "… social oppression, cultural discourse, and environmental barriers" (Shakespeare, 2006, p. 197). In the United Kingdom, the social model of disability has provided an analysis of the social exclusion of disabled people (Hasler, 1993), with this model developing from the work of the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation [UPIAS].

Its impact on education was seen in the Warnock Report (1978), which formed the basis for the Education Act of 1981. This report not only provided general classifications to cover broad issues and problems, but gave in-depth consideration of children's individual needs. This Act provided the first definition of 'special needs', with subsequent legislation embedding the responsibilities of Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in law (see chapter 4).

The central concept of this model is a simple one which Oliver (2004) believes is not merely a theory, but an effective tool through which change can be generated. It is a model which focuses upon social oppression and the moral responsibility of society to change itself, in order that disabled people are able to engage more with it. In addition, the social model has had a positive impact on the self-esteem of disabled people, which allows them to make a personal contribution to society.


The relative model regards disability as a combination of medical and social issues; it arises due to a difference between the perceptions of what people are able to do, as opposed to what they can achieve in actuality. Disability is explained as a result of the interaction between an individual's abilities and what they need to do in order to be an active member of society. This model looks to provide solutions and fill this gap by recognising that there are a range of approaches which can be utilised to resolve the problems faced by those who are disabled.

Observations with regard to this model state it is too abstract or ambiguous, failing to provide concrete principles and guidelines which can make a contribution towards a definition of disability. It also fails to acknowledge that not all adjustments will have the same impact upon different individuals with the same condition (Hedlund, 2009).


The cultural minority model concentrates on the experiences of people with disability in that their practices and preferences are atypical of the majority of people in society, which leads them to be discriminated against (Hedlund, 2009). This model highlights the fact that individuals who have been unable to develop their senses, or do not use them in the same way as others, are discriminated against by the majority who utilise these forms of communication. The cultural minority model does not regard disability as something which limits individuals or as some form of imperfection, which is consistent with the way in which some groups - for example, the deaf community - regard the treatment by society at large. Representatives of these communities argue that they are discriminated against in that what is normal practice and of value within society is not that which is practised and valued within their community. Attempts to assimilate individuals from different minority communities into society perpetuate outstanding issues rather than providing opportunities for individuals and social groups to preserve their identity, language and culture (Hedlund, 2009).


There is no specific definition for 'disadvantaged'. As a general principle, the term covers those who are discriminated against as a result of being socially or economically deprived. In educational terms, this is usually determined by eligibility for free school meals (poverty) or those who have been looked after by the local authorities and/or have been adopted (social) (Long and Bolton, 2015). The pupil premium was introduced by the government in 2011 in an effort to increase social mobility and to have an impact upon the performance gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. This premium provides additional funding for each pupil who is identified as being disadvantaged, which the school can use in any way it deems best, in order to facilitate improved pupil outcomes (Macleod et al., 2015).

There are a number of factors which can contribute towards households being in poverty. Single parent families, workless households, those with low qualifications, those living in specific areas and types of housing, and those who belong to ethnic minority groups are some of those who are at risk. Lone parents can find it particularly difficult to maintain the standard of living for their families, in view of the fact that there are issues with regard to child care costs and finding appropriate work whilst looking after their children. Inevitably, many lone or unemployed parents rely on benefits; Darton and Strelitz (2003) indicate that where this is the case, and there are children in the family, there is a 90% risk of their existing in poverty (70% lone parent families, 30% where neither parent works). Those who are at work but lack qualifications are not paid as well as their qualified peers, with those living in sheltered accommodation or deprived areas of the community often existing in poverty. Ethnic minority groups can often suffer as a result of below average educational attainment, which leads to poor pay and a higher prevalence of child deprivation (Darton and Strelitz, 2003).

It is important to acknowledge that there are a number of factors which contribute towards low attainment in schools. Darton and Strelitz (2003) comment that as education is an ongoing process, different factors will have a cumulative impact on learners' development, from the earliest stages of their preschool education right through into the formal classroom setting. Poverty is consistently linked with poor educational outcomes, although the exact cause of this is unclear; poverty itself has associations with low expectations, a lack of motivation and/or successful role models, poor nutritional levels, the need to support family income and overcrowding in the family home. Early years development, inclusive of stable family life, nutrition, health and poverty, also has an impact upon educational experiences, as does levels of parental support. Clearly, this is impacted upon by parents' levels of educational attainment, although it is important that high levels of emotional support and encouragement can and do have a positive impact. Peer groups are also seen to have an impact on children's learning and development, both in a positive and negative sense (Darton and Strelitz, 2003).

The importance of overall support packages and interventions was stressed within both the SEN Code of Practice (Department for Education and Skills [DfES], 2001) and the Every Child Matters [ECM] (2003) documentation: the latter was an attempt by government to ensure that all children were provided with teaching which encouraged the development of the skills to allow them to remain healthy and safe, to experience enjoyment and a sense of achievement, to make a valuable contribution, and to achieve economic stability. It is through catering for the needs of learners and their families that the opportunities for better life chances can be provided (Blake and Shortis, 2008).


There are 11 separate categories of SEN that are recognised by the government (see Chapter 4.2). Children's issues can range from learning difficulties (specific, moderate, severe, profound and multiple), to Behavioural, Social and Emotional Difficulties (BSED - sometimes known as SEBD [Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties]), speech, language and communication needs, sensory impairment (visual, hearing, multi-sensory) and physical disabilities. There are also 'hidden' specific needs, such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, and Asperger's syndrome.

It is clear that there is overlap between each of these different categories, and that it is essential that there is a unified approach towards catering for both individual and collective needs within an educational environment. There needs to be an acceptance of a collective responsibility to provide the best possible education for all individuals, irrespective of their abilities and/or disabilities, which the UK government has embraced through the creation and implementation of documents such as the Equality Act (2010), the Children and Families Act (2014) and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations (2014). It has also produced a revised Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (Department for Education/ Department of Health [DfE/DoH], 2015) which specifically acknowledges schools' responsibility to provide support and interventions which create opportunities for children to reach their full potential.


Imagine that you are arriving at the new school to take up a new post.

What information would you require about the children in your class to enable you to prepare adequately for their needs in the approaching school term? Do you think gleaning this information before teaching is enough to ensure that you are meeting learners' needs? If not, why not?

Catering for Learning Needs in the Classroom

'Learning needs' is an umbrella term which covers a range of issues, some of which are noted above. It is important for all practitioners to realise that there is a degree of overlap in the approaches that can be utilised in catering for various different learning needs. This section will aim to address some of the ways in which different types of need can be accommodated within the classroom; this includes both teaching practice and the ways in which this can be adjusted, and wider institutional actions which can be taken to improve inclusiveness.

Disabled learners

It is the responsibility of individual school communities to cater for all students in their care, including those who have physical disabilities and/or sensory impairments. Clearly, it is important that all areas (inside and outside) of the school are accessible to those who are confined to wheelchairs and/or use crutches or callipers in order to move around. It is particularly important that simple changes to improve accessibility are addressed from the outset: for example, the width of doorframes, the space between desks and/or workbenches and the placement of light switches and electric sockets at wheelchair eye level. The layout of classrooms may also need to be altered to accommodate learners with mobility issues of any sort.

Conditions within a classroom for those with hearing loss can be challenging, which necessitates the environment being adapted for their needs. Simple things can be done in the first instance: for example, keeping the classroom door closed minimises noise from the hallway which can interfere with children's ability to learn. Practitioners should adopt standard practice when presenting material to the group; they should avoid standing in front of the window so that their face can be seen, and any new instructions or information should be delivered from the front of the classroom. Students should be encouraged to maintain an element of silence whilst listening to others engaged in classroom discussions in order that those with auditory issues have the maximum chance of understanding the information that is being shared. Similarly, when taking part in discussions, students should be asked to speak one at a time and not to interrupt or talk over each other. It is also important that practitioners remember to summarise key points that are made during the course of class debate. Assignments should be clearly written on the board, including any reference numbers (e.g. textbook pages) that the class will need to use during the course of the lesson. It is also important that the delivery of material in the lesson is placed in such a way that students are able to process the meaning of what is being said, which is particularly important if additional visual materials are being used (Success for Kids with Hearing Loss, n.d.).

The way in which materials are presented to those who have any degree of visual impairment is of vital importance. Any visual materials which the teacher is using should be provided for individual students, and practitioners should verbalise any information as it is written on the board. Any writing on a board should be in a high-contrast colour and there should be large print and/or braille texts available as necessary. All worksheets should be clear, with presentation materials being against a plain background. If any use is made of ICT and computers, the screens should be at eye level and tilted in order to avoid glare and eyestrain. The environment should also be adjusted in order to accommodate needs; in order to avoid glare, light filters could be placed on fluorescent lights and all unnecessary background should be eliminated, as should extraneous clutter from around walkways and paths within the teaching area. It is also important that items students frequently use should be kept in one place so that they know where to find them without undue difficulty, and that there is the facility to utilise individual lighting as necessary (Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, n.d.).

In addition to this, it is critical that these pupils are afforded permission to adjust their position in the room as necessary in order to be able to see information that is presented at the front of the classroom. Similar flexibility needs to be shown regarding the way in which pupils are able to demonstrate the extent of their learning. Assignments should be modified to accommodate their needs, which may include the use of bold lined paper, shortened written assignments and/or homework and oral tests (Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, n.d.).

Disadvantaged and SEN learners

It is important to recognise that disadvantaged pupils can include those for whom English is not their first language, those who live in poverty and those who have a different cultural background; 'SEN' can cover those who experience learning difficulties (which can vary in severity) as well as those who have mental health issues which have an impact upon their behaviour, their emotions and their ability to manage their conduct in social situations.

Clearly, it is important that practitioners have an appreciation of each individual child's background in order that their support for them can be accurately targeted. For example, making a recommendation for an impoverished pupil to make use of a tablet or PC at home might be the cause of upset or offence. However, instituting an after-school club for all pupils, so that they are able to have access to ICT for the purposes of engaging in research and/or homework, could help to support those pupils whose families do not have the disposable income to afford such technology in their own home.

There also needs to be sensitivity towards cultural issues and specific topics which might be the cause of embarrassment; for example, the teaching of sex education. It is critical that practitioners have an appreciation and social understanding of the cultural and religious needs of each of the pupils so that varying beliefs can be respected and accommodated, whilst still ensuring that the necessary curriculum content is delivered to pupils. For example, the notion of engaging in a physical relationship before marriage can be tackled as a part of both relationships and healthy lifestyles units of work, both of which can include not only explanations of how things work biologically, but also the necessity of being ready for such a commitment, the need for safety and the religious views of each part of the school community with regard to this issue. Another potential issue in this modern age is related to children whose parents are of the same sex - liaison with the parents, in such a case, would be of vital importance in terms of how sex and relationships education should be approached.

It is the task of every practitioner to provide equal opportunities for all pupils, both in terms of access to the curriculum and to other activities that take place in school (extracurricular clubs and activities). A study by Macleod et al. (2015) stated that schools had attempted to utilise a number of strategies to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils since the advent of the pupil premium in 2011. The most popular strategies were those which focused upon teaching and learning, particularly paired or small group additional teaching, improved feedback and one-to-one tuition with individual students. This research concluded that the most successful schools were making use of metacognitive and/or independent learning strategies, and peer learning strategies in order to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. Metacognitive strategies are those which are specifically tailored to enable pupils to learn how to learn, through explicitly reflecting upon their own learning; this involves getting learners in the habit of setting attainable goals and having them practice reflective and/or evaluative procedures in order to monitor their own progress (Macleod et al., 2015).

The study by Macleod et al. (2010) concluded that there were seven building blocks which provided an avenue for success in improving the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. They felt it important to promote an ethos of attainment for all pupils, as opposed to labelling disadvantaged pupils as those less likely to experience success. Personalised support to overcome barriers to learning at an early stage was felt to be important, as was high quality teaching in the classroom. The individual focus was also maintained in terms of concentrating on personal outcomes through deploying the best practitioners to support disadvantaged children, thus providing opportunities for them to build up constructive relationships with individuals whilst developing their supportive skills. It was also felt that regular assessments, rather than one of evaluations, would better serve children and enable practitioners to respond to their needs. Clarity of leadership was highlighted in terms of setting high aspirations for all pupils and in devolving the responsibility for improved attainment to all practitioners, as opposed to accepting inconsistent performance and low aspirations.

Absolutely critical to the success of supporting disadvantaged children is understanding their needs and their circumstances, then adjusting educational provision to suit their needs. This is also vital when practitioners are dealing with SEN students (please see chapter 4 for more details about specific conditions). It is the responsibility of individual practitioners, and indeed schools in general, to have a clear understanding of pupils' needs so that appropriate interventions can be provided for them. Good practice begins with good assessment - this provides information about the strengths and weaknesses of an individual's abilities, which in turn informs the planning for personalised provision whilst documenting their progress (paraphrase of Cizek, 1997 in Phye, 1997, p. 10), thus turning assessment into a tool for learning (Linn and Miller, 2004). Davis et al. (2004) found that effective strategies included employing 'procedural facilitators' such as writing frames, planning sheets, story mapping and teacher modelling of thinking processes; these vehicles should be accompanied by question and answer sessions between practitioners and individuals/groups of pupils to reinforce and supplement learning opportunities. They also found that support mechanisms in the classroom, such as paired work and group work, were invaluable not only in raising levels of attainment, but as a means of regulating behaviour. Peer mentoring and monitoring enabled pupils to learn the skills necessary to monitor and regulate themselves, both in terms of their behaviour and their desire to learn. Davis et al. (2004) further emphasised self-sufficiency, in that they stressed the importance of utilising approaches that provided opportunities for children to develop their independence whilst increasing their access to participation and learning. They found that a multi-method approach towards the education of those with special needs was the most promising, although they did point out that there is very little difference between many of the strategies used by practitioners in educating all children and those which can be employed when dealing with SEN pupils specifically.

Catering for Learning Needs Outside of the Classroom

It is important to recognise that children's learning needs are the same, irrespective of whether they are learning inside or outside of the classroom. Outdoor spaces are equally important to children's learning, in that they are able to engage in activities in a less formal environment which allows them to experiment with their language as a result of increased opportunities to socialise with each other whilst they are learning (Duarte and Gutierrez-Gomez, 2007). The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (n.d.) list six distinct benefits of learning in an outdoor environment:

  • it supports an appreciation of the advantages of being active, helping children to understand that physical activity and movement promotes their sense of well-being whilst encouraging them to adopt healthy lifestyles
  • it provides learners with opportunities to experience the natural world, inclusive of the different seasons and changes in the weather
  • allows children the chance to interact with, and therefore develop an understanding and respect for their environment, inclusive of all aspects of nature (animals and plants)
  • affords children the opportunity to explore and discover things through interacting with nature which enhances their ability to experiment in solving problems
  • provides children with the opportunity to learn how to manage risk (within a safe environment), with this being particularly useful for those who learn best through 'doing'
  • it builds interest, enjoyment and motivation to learn in the outdoor environment through engagement with it.

Clearly, it is important that the outdoor space that is enjoyed by any school or learning community is designed in order that it provides maximum benefit to its learners. All of the outdoor space should be made as accessible as possible to those who are physically disabled, including any form of garden projects and/or nature trails. Stimulating materials should be available for young learners (tyres, logs, soft play areas) in order to spark their imaginations, whilst practitioners should encourage learners to go outside, even if it is merely to experience a breeze on their faces or the sound of leaves falling from the trees. It is important that practitioners have an enthusiastic attitude towards learning outside - they should provide a positive lead and engage in purposeful activities which concentrate on building up not only children's interest in nature and their physical strength but also their core skills. For example, numeracy can be addressed as a part of the outdoor environment through asking children to do simple things like counting the number of slats in a piece of wooden fencing, measuring spaces and looking for different mathematical shapes which occur in natural things like leaves (Ryder Richardson, n.d.).

The role of organised visits to outdoor spaces also needs to be mentioned, particularly where there is a lack of outdoor facilities in specific settings. For example, learners can be taken to local allotments, city farms or specifically designed forest facilities where activities can be provided to enhance their appreciation of the outdoors, and where their learning can be supplemented in a rewarding and enjoyable way (Howard, 2012).


Why is it important for practitioners to have an understanding of an individual's background and specific needs prior to teaching them? How might having this understanding impact on the learner's outcomes?

What is the importance of personalising an individual's learning experience?

What is the importance of building personal relationships with learners, particularly those who are experiencing difficulties?

Valuable techniques in Inclusive Practice with Different Groups of Learners

All techniques and strategies that enable individuals with difficulties to have access to the curriculum are valuable - it is critical to understand that there is no single strategy which will be a 'panacea for all ills', as the whole notion of inclusive practice is driven by the fact that every child must be treated as an individual, and will need an individual approach for their needs. Generic approaches can provide a useful starting point in catering for individual needs, but unless children feel as though they are of value as an individual, practitioners will not be able to help them to realise their full potential.

No matter what a child's individual learning needs are, it is important that they are placed at the centre of the learning process, with practitioners matching their teaching and learning strategies to learners' stages of experience and development (Trussler and Robinson, 2015). Through social interaction and the scaffolding of learning (such as in the constructivist theories of learning - Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner - that we looked at in Module 1), learners are encouraged to accept responsibility for their learning through engaging in paired work, small group work and in peer support whilst they are engaged in meaningful tasks (Trussler and Robinson, 2015).

With this in mind, it is important that the physical environment is suitable for those who have any form of disability and that efforts are made to adjust the teaching environment to suit their needs. It is also important that practitioners are aware of how materials and/or information need to be presented to make them as accessible as possible for the learners. Accessibility of the curriculum for all learners is important - teaching must be sympathetic to their age and stage of learning, and provided through interesting and engaging activities which aid understanding. It is important that all learners are supported in their learning through a combination of direct teaching, individual learning and the group learning in order that their different needs are met. Practitioners need to ensure that children not only make progress in their academic pursuits, but that they develop and mature as people, growing in confidence and competence as a result of their school experiences. Each person will come to understand their preferred learning methods, with practitioners working with them to extend their learning skills into other areas to make them into more rounded, lifelong learners.


How would you, as a practitioner, approach the task of ensuring that the following children were able to access the curriculum in your classroom?

  • a partially sighted child
  • a child with a hearing impairment
  • a child who is recognised as being disadvantaged (economically).

Get Help With Your Education Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional education essay writing service is here to help!

Get Help With Your Essay

Reference List

Blake, J., Shortis, T. (2008) 'English, Language, Diversity: Creative Opportunities in the New National Curriculum Orders' English Drama Media 10

Children and Families Act (2014) London: The Stationary Office

Collins English Dictionary (2014)

Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (n.d.) 'Benefits for Early Years of Learning Outside the Classroom.' Retrieved 14th November 2016 from http://www.lotc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Benefits-for-Early-Years-LOtC-Final-5AUG09.pdf

Darton, D., Strelitz, J. (Eds) (2003) Tackling UK poverty and disadvantage in the 21st-century: an exploration of the issues. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Department for Education/Department of Health [DfE/DoH] (2015) Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years. Statutory guidance for organisations which work with and support children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities. London: Department for Education/Department of Health

Duarte, G., Gutierrez-Gomez, C. (2007) 'Play, Language, and Laughter in Outdoor Spaces.' in Diaz Soto, L. (Ed) The Praeger Handbook of Latino Education in the U.S. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers pp. 369 - 372

Macleod, S., Sharpe, C., Barnardinelli, D., Skipp, A., Higgins, S. (2015) Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: articulating success and good practice. Research report. London: Department for Education

Davis, P., Florian, L., Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., Farrell, P., Hick, P., Humphrey, N., Jenkins, P., Kaplan, I., Palmer, S., Parkinson, G., Polat, F., Reason, R., Byers, R., Dee, L., Kershner, R., Rouse, M. (2004) Teaching Strategies and Approaches for Pupils with Special Educational Needs: A Scoping Study. Nottingham: Department for Education and Skills

Department for Education and Skills (2003) Every Child Matters. London: The Stationary Office

Department for Education and Skills [DfES] (2001) Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. Annesley: Department for Education and Skills Publications

Education Act (1981) London: HMSO

Equality Act (2010) London: HMSO

Hedlund, M. (2009) 'Disability Concept: A Complex and Diverse Concept.' in Marshall, C. A., Kendall, E., Banks, M. E., Gover, R. M. S. (Eds) Disabilities: Insights from across Fields around the World Volume 1, 2 and 3 Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers

Howard, R. (2012) 'A commitment by nursery managers to outdoor play is essential for early years development.' Retrieved 14th November 2016 from http://www.daynurseries.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1557900/nursery-managers-showing-a-commitment-to-outdoor-play-is-essential-for-early-years-development

Linn, R. L., Miller, M. D. (2005) Measurement and Assessment in Teaching.(9th Ed) Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Educational Ltd

Long, R., Bolton, P. (2015) Support for Disadvantaged Children in Education in England. Briefing Paper No. 07061. London: House of Commons

Oliver, M. (2004) 'The Social Model in Action: If I had a Hammer.' in Barnes, C., Mercer, G. (Eds) Implementing the Social Model of Disability: Theory and Research Leeds: The Disability Press

Parliament Publications (2011) 'Written evidence submitted by BBC Children in Need.' Retrieved 31st October 2016 from http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmeduc/744/744vw140.htm

Phye, G. D. (1997) Handbook of Classroom Assessment Learning, Adjustment and Achievement. San Diego: Academic Press Inc

RAND Corporation (2016) 'Disadvantaged Students.' Retrieved 31st October 2016 from http://www.rand.org/topics/disadvantaged-students.html

Ryder Richardson, G. (n.d.) Open Up to Outdoor Mathematics. Learning through Landscapes Retrieved 14th November 2016 from http://www.ltl.org.uk/nsgw/documents/LTL-Maths-Early-Years-Booklet-final1432742138.pdf

Shakespeare, T. (2006) 'The Social Model of Disability.' in Davis, L. J. (Ed) The Disability Studies Reader (2nd Ed) London: Routledge

Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations (2014) London: The Stationary Office

Success for Kids with Hearing Loss (n.d.) 'Children with Hearing Loss - Helpful Adaptions in the School Environment.' Retrieved 8th November 2016 from http://successforkidswithhearingloss.com/relationship-hl-listen-learn/accommodations/

Teaching Students with Visual Impairments (n.d.) 'Accommodations and Modifications.' Retrieved 7th November 2016 from http://www.teachingvisuallyimpaired.com/accommodations.html

Trussler, S., Robinson, D. (2015) Inclusive Practice in the Primary School: a guide for teachers. London: Sage Publications Ltd

Warnock Report (1978) Special Educational Needs: Report to the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People. London: HMSO

World Health Organisation (WHO) (2016) 'Disabilities.' Retrieved 31st October 2016 from http://www.who.int/topics/disabilities/en/

Hands on Scenario: Disabled, Disadvantaged and Special Educational Needs (SEN) learners

You have been in post at a new secondary school for the first half of the autumn term. Two individual pupils have come to your attention in specific classes across different year groups.

  • Year 10 pupil - Brian, visually impaired

Brian appears to be distracted easily during the course of explanations and presentations of information. He appears to be disinterested and prefers to place himself, along with his TA, in the middle of the classroom. He does not like to be singled out in any way and appears to be uncomfortable with having an adult there on a full-time basis to assist him. He invariably hands homework in late or does not complete it at all. Having consulted the SENCO, this appears to be a familiar pattern across all subject areas. He does appear to enjoy stories and is apparently very good at verbalising characters.

  • Year 8 - Vicky, hearing impaired

Vicky is an enthusiastic pupil who is partially deaf. She often finds it difficult to hear what is being said in the classroom, in spite of seating herself at the front. In group work, she can often be heard asking other members of the group to repeat themselves so that she is able to access the conversation. She does lip read and she uses British Sign Language (BSL) in order to aid in her communication, although she does speak reasonably clearly.


  • Year 10 pupil - Brian

The disinterest which is being displayed by Brian could be the result of a lack of accessibility in terms of the way in which material is presented in the classroom. It is important that any presentations delivered utilising a whiteboard or any form of video presentation are explained as they are unfolding. For example, when using a PowerPoint presentation, it is important to read out the contents of the slides so that he can follow the information that is being provided. It is also important that he is encouraged to sit at the front of the class so he is able to hear (and to see as far as he is able) the presentation, thus making it more accessible to him. In view of the fact that he does have some vision, it is important to provide large print copies of presentations and materials, which he can then take home to help him with any homework assignments. It is also important to face the class when speaking with them - talking into the whiteboard, away from the pupils, will make the process of hearing what is being said much more difficult as a result of the background noise which is inevitably present in the classroom.

On a more personal level, it might be advantageous to meet with him, along with his TA and (if possible) his parents, in order to find out how to better meet his needs. For example if he intimates that he needs more time to complete homework exercises, an agreement could be made with him about the extent of the extra time needed to complete tasks while stressing the importance of adhering to this agreement in order to be fair to other students.

  • Year 8 pupil - Vicky

In order to include Vicky and provide her with access to the whole lesson, it is important that, as with Brian, background noise is reduced. Without making too much of an issue, it is advisable that all the pupils in the class are made aware of the need for them to be quieter than usual in order to help with everyone's understanding of the material and/or any discussions that take place as a whole group. It is important that both you, the teacher, and members of her peer group face Vicky when they are talking to her, or talking to a group of which she is a part. It is also important that to model the correct pace of speaking so that the students have an example to follow in an effort to fully include her. It might also be beneficial for people in close contact with Vicky (the teacher, any support staff, or even a handful of peers who she is close to) to learn some basic BSL to help with communication which will also serve as a demonstration of the embracing of difference.

If the classroom is quite dark, a soft but direct light could be set up for a specific area at the front of the room which will serve to light my face making it easier for her to lip read. It's also critical to remember to look at Vicky rather than her support worker - it's very easy to do this, and there is almost always no offence meant, but this might make Vicky feel as though she has been deemed 'incapable' of understanding. Naturally, this should be discouraged.

In addition, it is a good strategy to make use of ICT - computers and use of the interactive whiteboard will provide visual reinforcement for words spoken to the class. It's also a good idea to get into the habit of placing keywords in one corner of the whiteboard and/or on the noticeboard directly to the side of it at the front of the class, which has proven to be of equal benefit to all of the learners in Vicky's group. Producing handouts for each of the activities that we engage in as a group, which Vicky can take home in order to reinforce the concepts with which we have been dealing, could also be a successful strategy. Vicky could also be provided with a folder in which to store each of these documents which are numbered so that she will have no trouble in keeping them in order.

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.