Extending support with ICT

25th May 2001 at 01:00

UNLOCKING POTENTIAL - How ICT can support children with special needs. By Sally McKeown. Questions Publishing pound;12 (+pound;3 postage). SUPPORTING INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY - A handbook for those who assist in Early Years settings. By Mike and Gina Farmer. David Fulton pound;14.

Unlocking Potential is a great title, one that will ring a bell with special needs co-ordinators. It updates a series of articles on physical access, sensory impairment, and language and literacy, published by Special Children magazine in 1999. The book begins with a chapter on how to use computers to help with paperwork and writing individual education plans.

General as well as specialist programs are covered and the importance of Internet access for professional development is stressed. Helpful hardware, software and websites are given good coverage with examples of classroom use and an easy-to-access style. There is a brief mention of programs dealing with life skills, but I was disappointed that the gifted or able child was not given room here. However, it is a good starting point fo anyone new to ICT and the SENCO role.

Supporting Information and Communications Technology initially offers a basic introduction to computers and ICT to level 3.It explains the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's schemes of work and jargon such as "base unit", as well as giving information on how to install a CD-Rom, use a digital camera (adjusting the contrast for children with visual impairment) and how to change the mouse for a left-handed user, as well as advice on using the Internet.

Aimed primarily at classroom assistants working with Years 1 and 2, there are short, practical classroom activities. These focused sections are excellent for anyone new to teaching. Maths, literacy, science, art and design are covered, though the special needs section is limited to improving input through devices such as trackerballs. Although full of practical advice on using software and tools most schools will already have in place, there are some curious software omissions.

Pam Turnbull is science co-ordinator at The Heys primary school, Ashton-under-Lyne

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