Fun all the way

19th October 2007 at 01:00
Good special needs resources should be versatile and exciting. Each year, The TES, in conjunction with NASEN, rewards the best.For the past 15 years, the NASEN TES Special Educational Needs Book Awards have recognised excellence in the field of special needs-related publishing. The industry is changing, though, and as more worthwhile material surfaces in new formats, so the awards have expanded to accommodate. The original three book categories - teaching and learning, academic and children's - are now joined by two new ones, primary and secondary resources. These encompass anything from DVDs and interactive software to old-fashioned board games and toys.

The winners, who were announced yesterday, reflect the theme of inclusion, something that impressed Nick Andrews, head of additional educational needs at Whitfield and Aspen School, a primary in Whitfield, Kent, and the chairman of the panel for the new primary resources award. "People are now thinking a lot more about inclusion when they plan resources, which is a good thing," he says. "Inclusion is something that does put teachers under pressure, so anything that helps them out is to be welcomed."

It's the versatility of materials that is the key. "In a nutshell, good SEN resources will meet specific needs but at the same time be usable by others beyond that particular group. They take account of the variation in children's needs, especially in a mainstream classroom where a number of different difficulties may have to be addressed simultaneously." Crucially, thinks Nick, they should be exciting. These are the books and resources that did the trick this year.

The Inclusive Resource for Secondary Classrooms Award

Winner: Mentoring Activities Box by Adele Clark and Jacqui Blades (Speechmark Publishing Ltd), a box of games organised into themed sections on topics including self-confidence, friendship, bullying, decision-making and family change, designed to be used in a mentoring setting and promote classroom discussion. Games include Clown and 2in1Football Set.

The two runners-up are Autism and Me, by Rory Hoy (Jessica Kingsley), a 20-minute DVD plus booklet by a film-maker with autism, with advice for friends, family and peers of those with the condition, and Buzan's iMindMap by Tony Buzan (Buzan Online Ltd), software for mind mapping activities.

The Inclusive Resource for Primary Classrooms Award

Winner: Come Alive Stories Series, designed and published by Yellow Door, an interactive CD-Rom, featuring traditional stories such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears but with a range of accompanying activities.

In second place is Tacpac Two, designed by Hilary Wainer and Alexander Massey (Tacpac), a multi-sensory activities pack combining touch and music to promote communication and interaction. Third place goes to The Fine Motor Skills Box, designed by Sharon Drew with Special Direct (TTS Group Ltd), with games and activities including finger football, ten-pin bowling and tiddly-winks, aimed at enhancing children's motor skills. Also strongly recommended in this category was the Feel Good Faces Board Game, designed by Lucy and Amy Rogers (published by Feel Good Friends), to help children develop understanding of feelings and emotions and ways of expressing them.

The Special Educational Needs Academic Book Award

Winner: Autism Spectrum Disorders: Psychological theory and research by Dermot Bowler (John Wiley Sons), which examines the main theories of autism and provides a framework for evaluating psychological research.

The runners-up are Understanding and Supporting Children with ADHD, by Lesley Hughes and Paul Cooper (Sage), a handbook for teachers and special needs co-ordinators, firmly on the side of the child and the parents and up-to-date on issues such as medication; Interactive Play for Children with Autism, by Diana Seach (Routledge), which the judges felt breaks new ground in the subject, and Partnerships for Inclusive Education: A critical approach to collaborative working, by Liz Todd (Routledge), looking at how children and parents can be included in the partnership between professionals.

The Books for Teaching and Learning Award

Winner: A Practical Guide to Pre-School Inclusion, by Chris Dukes and Maggie Smith (Sage), including advice and guidance for pre-schools on the special needs code of practice and the Disability Discrimination Act.

The runners-up are Covering the Curriculum with Stories, by Sharon Ginnis and Paul Ginnis (Crown House Publishing Co.), featuring six cross-curricular play-based projects for ages three to seven; Penny Wise finds out about Bills and Taxes, by Andy Platt (Southgate Publishing), which aims to get primary-age children thinking about personal finance, and Emotional Coaching, by Robyn Hromek (Lucky Duck Publications), which sets children problem-solving and goal-setting tasks, on topics such as anger, teasing, self-confidence and more.

The Special Educational Needs Children's Book Award

Winner: The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd (David Fickling Books), a mystery adventure novel for age 9-plus. Ted, who has Asperger's syndrome, turns sleuth when his cousin Salim goes for a ride on the London Eye and apparently never gets off. Sadly, the author, Siobhan Dowd, died in August.

The judges highly commended Dan and Diesel, by Charlotte Hudson and Lindsey Gardiner (Red Fox Picture Books), a picture book about a blind boy and his dog. Also shortlisted was The Ding-Dong Bag, by Polly Peters, illustrated by Jess Stockham (Child's Play), in which two boys open a bag of sounds and end up making a racket.

Special Needs London takes place today and tomorrow at the Business Design Centre, London, sponsored by NASEN (the National Association for Special Educational Needs) and The TES.

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