Professional development

5th November 2004 at 00:00
500 TIPS FOR WORKING WITH CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. By Betty Vahid, Sally Harwood and Sally Brown. RoutledgeFalmer. pound;15.99

The introduction suggests that this attractively titled book is a box of wisdom, to be dipped into when you need help. Unfortunately, it is more like a bran tub. The 500 tips are mostly split into 10 sections: put your hand in and hope you don't pull out a dud.

There are excellent sections. The first on "becoming a good listener" is a precise introduction to a crucial professional skill; others which focus on closely-defined areas, such as "reintroducing a student to the class", make good points.

Yet, when the authors attempt to reduce "working with EAL pupils" to 10 tips, you wonder at their optimism. It would help if the sections linked explicitly to sources of information: the tips could direct readers to more heavyweight material. When you reach the information section it is slender, and does not mention a single website.

Perhaps the date of writing (1996) is the problem. The authors have written something which, though some sections break the mould, fits the "assess and provide" model of the 1994 SEN Code of Practice. It seems the publishers have never revised the book and have therefore failed to incorporate the shift to the environmental and social approach of the national curriculum inclusion statement.

If you check out any advice you find, you will get some good things, otherwise you might be better off looking elsewhere.

Nick Peacey

Co-ordinator, Senjit, University of London Institute of Education

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