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Additional needs

Age 11-16

One of the trickiest tasks you encounter when you inherit a new class is to remember which pupils have learning difficulties and which ones have English as a second language.

It is so easy to go into those first few lessons without either reading information about them or only half reading it because you have got so many other things to do. You don't do it properly until you have frustrated and alienated a lot of needy pupils by setting them the wrong level of work.

So why not give up half an hour near the beginning and colour code the names in your mark book? Try green for pupils with a reading age three years or more below their chronological age, red if they are at an early stage of learning English, and blue where they have speech and language difficulties.

Every time you look at your mark book, in or out of the lesson, you will be giving your memory an important visual jog. The colour coding is innocuous, so if pupils look at your mark book they are not obviously being labelled in a negative way

Website For further useful tips on teaching special needs, try the National Association of Special Educational Needs www.nasen.org.uk

Paul Blum teaches at Islington Green school in London

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