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A positive experience

This year's NASEN award winners introduced by the chairmen of the judging panels.

Five years ago the National Association for Special Educational Needs established its book award to recognise publications which in- form, inspire and provide insight for special needs professionals.

This year's panel received 40 publications which ranged from teaching materials and resources for different ages, stages, subject areas and areas of need, to general introductory books about topics such as autism, specific learning difficulties (dyslexia) and behaviour difficulties.

Included in the short-list were On The Margins, edited by Mel Lloyd-Smith and John Dwyfor Davies, on the experiences of children and young people.

Beyond Special Needs: Enhancing Children's Learning Through Innovative Thinking, by Susan Hart, was a rare book amongst the finalists as it was based on specific research - in-depth case studies - and argued by the author in her own terms. It was like a breath of fresh air.

Teacher Education for Special Needs in Europe, edited by Peter Mittler and Patrick Daunt, is a collection from a symposium.

Differentiation and Diversity in the Primary School, by Eve Bearne, opens up links between SEN and mainstream thinking about individual differences.

Actualising Talent: A Lifelong Challenge, edited by Joan Freeman, Pieter Span and Harald Wagner, focuses on the special needs of the very able.

But this year's winner was Enabling Access, edited by Barry Carpenter, Rob Ashdown and Keith Bovair and published by David Fulton.

Its 23 chapters cover curriculum issues and it aims to provide detailed analysis and frameworks for all subjects, reflecting how they can be accommodated for pupils with learning difficulties. It promotes partnerships with parents and pupils - and a holistic view of the individual learner and the curriculum.

But in such a substantial edited book, the promise in some chapters is not always followed through in others.

Nevertheless, this book offers considerable practical knowledge and topical and accessible information.

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