Special Needs - Top of the tops

The annual Special Educational Needs Book Awards has in recent years been expanded to cover not just books but also games, DVDS and other resources
17th October 2008, 1:00am


Special Needs - Top of the tops


It's the 16th year of the awards and this time there are seven categories - five for books and two for resources. Each award is chosen by a different panel of judges from across the education spectrum. Stephen Manning discovers what the judges deemed the most inclusive and innovative in the field.

Children's Book Award

Winner: Best Friends, illustrated by Mark Chambers (Tango Books)

This pop-up storybook, about a wheelchair-bound boy and his female friend who pretend to be astronauts, pirates, explorers and athletes, was felt by the judges to most enhance children's understanding of special needs.

Runners-up: Five Little Ducks, illustrated by Anthony Lewis (Child's Play (International) Ltd) and It's Raining! It's Pouring! We're Exploring! by Polly Peters, illustrated by Jess Stockham (Child's Play (International) Ltd)

Academic Book Award

Winner: Achievement and Inclusion in Schools by Kristine Black-Hawkins, Lani Florian and Martyn Rouse (Routledge)

This book argues that inclusion and academic achievement are not incompatible and looks at strategies to make both happen.

Runners-up: Deconstructing Special Education and Constructing Inclusion by Gary Thomas and Andrew Loxley (Open University Press) and Dilemmas of Difference, Inclusion and Disability by Brahm Norwich (Routledge)

Book to Support Teaching and Learning - Teacher Book

Winner: Start Write, Stay Right! by Alison Harris and Janet Taylor (TTS GroupSpecial Direct)

This is the first year that this award has been split in two - for pupils and teachers. The teacher prize is awarded to a book that gives them information and strategies in helping their special needs pupils access the curriculum. The winner provides practical advice on how to help special needs pupils with their handwriting, with warm-up and work-out activities.

Runners-up: Helping Children Hang On to Your Every Word by Maggie Johnson and illustrated by Robyn Gallow (QEd Publications) and Every Child Can Learn by Katrin Stroh, Thelma Robinson and Alan Proctor (Sage Publications)

Book To Support Teaching And Learning - Pupil Book

Winner: This Life Readers and Resource Pack by Jayne Garner (AXIS Education)

This award, for a curriculum book with ideas and approaches to support and inspire pupils and promote inclusion, goes to a collection of books, aimed at teenagers and adults with a low reading age, on life skills such as choosing a holiday, deciding on whether to have a pet, buy a car, set up home. There is an accompanying photocopiable resource pack with activities to develop literacy skills and is described by the judges as a useful off-the-shelf resource for teachers and teaching assistants.

Highly commended: Basic Skills for Work by Phil Freeman (AXIS Education)

Runners-up: Take Part Book Series by Jo Browning-Wroe (TTS Group Ltd) and Planning to Learn by Keely Harper-Hill and Stephanie Lord (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)

Book that Supports SEN and Disability Issues

Winner: Inclusion in the Primary Classroom by Margaret Collins (Optimus Education)

This book, complete with photocopiable resources, offers practical help in raising awareness of inclusion in the classroom, by encouraging children with disabilities to write (or draw pictures) about their experience.

Runners-up: Supporting Multilingual Learners in the Early Years by Sandra Smidt (Routledge), Developing an Inclusion Policy in your Early Years Setting by Hannah Mortimer and Alan Johnson (QEd Publications) and ADHD - Living without Brakes by Martin L. Kutscher MD, illustrations by Douglas Puder MD (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)

Inclusive Primary Classroom Resource

Winner: All Around Learning Circle Time Activity Mat (Learning Resources Ltd)

For ages three to six, this vinyl mat, complete with inflatable cubes and bean bags, is designed for brushing up skills based around numbers and shapes. The judging panel admired its adaptability in the playground, and the fact that it doesn't require highly developed fine motor skills.

Runners-up: Playscope Complete Set and Fidget Floor Mats designed by Sue Gascoyne (Play to Z Ltd), Storyshapes designed by Julia Damassa (Storyshapes Ltd) and Clicker Phonics (Crick Software)

ICT Accessibility

Winner: SUMS Maths (Sums Online)

A new award, for technology that supports the everyday school life of children with special needs. The winner is a set of 80-plus maths games for pupils aged five to 12, which can be played either on PCs or Playstation Portables (PSP). The judges noted its immediate pupil appeal and its wider inclusive implications.

Runners-up: LED Interactive Touchwall (SpaceKraft), Switch It! Dinosaurs Extra and Transport Extra (Inclusive Technology) and Talking Pen (Mantra Lingua)


Special Needs London conference, two days of seminars and workshops, takes place today and tomorrow at the Business Design Centre, London, sponsored by Nasen (the National Association for Special Educational Needs) and The TES. For more details see www.teachingexhibitions.co.uk.

The closing date for entries to next year's awards will be April 30, 2009. www.nasen.org.uk.

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