Is there adequate support in place for children with SEN?

Many children with special educational needs require specifically adapted materials to work with in school. We look at some areas that need to be considered when spending money in schools, to ensure equal opportunities for all 

It’s essential that young people receive a strong foundation in education to prepare them for their future. Self-progression and self-development are dependent upon the ability to absorb and process knowledge on a range of different topics, experiences and events; through our learning experience at school, we gain a better understanding of the world and our place within it.

Making learning accessible for everyone is hugely important, including for those with special educational needs (SEN). It’s fair to say that this segment of our population faces a greater set of challenges, with learning and teaching methods often requiring a specialist approach.

The way in which our education system accommodates the needs of students with learning disabilities is a key topic in the education sector at present.

Most children affected by SEN attend mainstream schools
Adults and children who experience learning difficulties are extremely vulnerable – and traditional teaching methods used within the education system can often prove unsuitable. Research shows that, within the UK population, approximately 193,707 children of school age are affected by SEN, which can have a profound impact on their overall learning experiences – including behaviour, physical ability, reading and writing, concentration levels and the ability to understand things.

Many question whether the UK has the right support systems in place. Findings indicate that most children with SEN go to mainstream schools, while government figures suggest that less than 10% attend specialised settings.

Approximately 2,000 children with SEN are known to be awaiting provision and urgent education funding throughout the country; however, this was not discussed in the 2018 budget (released in October last year).

Traditional teaching methods are often ineffective for those with SEN
A lot of children with SEN require specifically adapted materials to work with in school. We take a look at two of the important areas that need to be considered when spending money in mainstream schools, to ensure equal opportunities for all.

  1. Fonts

A lot of children who suffer from dyslexia find it very difficult to digest particular typefaces – both in print and on-screen. Readability will differ depending on the chosen font, but it’s recommended that you stay away from any typeface that has ticks and tails at the end of strokes — such as Times New Roman. This is because this type of font tends to obscure the shapes of the letters, which can be frustrating to someone who finds it difficult to read.

The size of the ascenders and descenders is also important for many dyslexic readers, as they often rely on the visual shape of a word due to phonological awareness. If the stem of a certain letter is too short – or too long – this could make their reading less precise.

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Sans-serif fonts are the preferred option for many people with dyslexia.

For those with visual impairments, Tiresias can be a good option. This font is used for subtitles and signs, but there is also now a screen version (Tiresias PC) that can be useful for digital work.

  1. Colour vision deficiency

Teachers aren’t often trained when it comes to a colour vision deficiency. Reports from Colour Blind Awareness found that there are around 400,000 colour blind pupils in British schools — 40% of whom don’t know they have it. Although the natural assumption of colour vision deficiency is red/green colour blind, there are some who can’t see any colour at all.

As a lot of colour deficiencies go undetected, children develop their own coping strategies. However, these will not always work – which can become problematic – and schools often aren’t equipped with the right books, learning cards, or other resources to teach with the condition in mind.

There are many things to consider in the classroom when it comes to allowing all pupils to have an equal learning experience. In relation to colour recognition, lighting is an extremely important factor. One rule to follow is, the brighter the light, the easier it is to recognise colour. With this in mind, it is best to sit those with colour deficiencies in natural light. It’s also advised that teachers use strong contrasts on the board and on computer screens. When possible, it is wise to avoid using red, green or pastel colours to highlight core teaching points, as these can, again, be more difficult to read.

This article was researched and produced by print business Where The Trade Buys. The UK-based firm works closely with organisations across the education sector, specialising in providing event signage.

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