Sensory perception

6th July 2001 at 01:00
A SENSORY APPROACH TO THE CURRICULUM FOR PUPILS WITH PROFOUND AND MULTIPLE LEARNING DIFFICULTIES. By Judy Davis. David Fulton pound;16.

BASELINE ASSESSMENT, CURRICULUM AND TARGET SETTING FOR PUPILS WITH PROFOUND AND MULTIPLE LEARNING DIFFICULTIES. By Sonia Maskell, Fran Watkins, Elizabeth Haworth, and Erica Brown. David Fultonpound;15

THE EDUCATION AND CARE OF CHILDREN WITH SEVERE, PROFOUND AND MULTIPLE LEARNING DIFFICULTIES. By Richard Aird. David Fulton pound;14. All available from TES Direct

Teachers new to working with pupils with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties (SPMLD) will not be short of new practical guidance. These three books are aimed at such teachers and this practical support mission.

Judy Davis's Sensory Approach covers why schools should have a sensory approach, when to offer it, where and how, with a strong emphasis on planning and recording. It begins by stressing the similarities of children with PMLD with other learners, by advocating their need to be active learners interacting with the physical and social environment, and calling for teachers to be creative and imaginative. It ends with what verges on a rather resource-led curriculum on a plate.

The author helpfully distinguishes between a sensory approach to the curriculum and a sensory curriculum per se. The book has a feel-good factor, summarising good practice described elsewhere and avoiding real controversy. The content on integration does not reflect up-to-date thinking, but the sections on literacy and drama are good, and as a practical guide and resource book it works well.

Baseline Assessment, Curriculum and Target Setting shares the process and outcomes of work in one school. For other school staffs grappling with baseline assessment and target setting it will go some way towards preventing "reinventing the wheel". It is strong on communication learning and draws heavily on the work of Jean Ware, but it is uncritical of targets and objectives and the individual learning programmes have an old, linear feel incompatible with interactive models of learning.

While these first two texts take the national curriculum and Government initiatives as their largely unquestioned starting point, Richard Aird has a more critical approach. He too intended a practical book, but he has produced a position paper as much as a guide. He critiques the dominance of the national curriculum and puts a case for the specialist curriculum with the child at the centre. His call to rethink the SLD curriculum is refreshing and uncompromising and his criticisms of P levels and latest QCA guidance will spark staffroom debate. There is practical support too, but for an ambitious overhaul of the curriculum rather than tinkering. It is, therefore, a book headteachers and academics will find valuable as well as classroom practitioners.

Melanie Nind is senior lecturer in Inclusive and Special Education at The Open University

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