Special needs

6th January 2006 at 00:00
The relocation of the Special Needs village has caused conflict at BETT this year. It has long been at the heart of the exhibition between the two halls, a symbol of the government's vision of inclusion. This year the organisers have moved it to the very back, citing health and safety reasons and the need for long-term growth. However, exhibitors are not impressed and many have voted with their feet.

Among the notable absentees are B Squared who produce assessment and IEP materials (see IEP round-up in Web Extras www.tes.co.ukonline) and CALSC whose Mastering Memory was short-listed in 2002 for a SEN software award.

Other companies have moved to the Fringe, organised by Inclusive Technology and sponsored by Special Children magazine. Traxsys will be here showing EasiTrax, a mouse alternative that does not look like a toy. This is going to be very popular in libraries and colleges and has been short-listed for the SEN hardware award.

Swedish company Frolunda will have Lexion, a monumental resource to support pupils with dyslexia or aphasia (review p 76). To celebrate their arrival at the Fringe, Martin Littler is sourcing some Swedish meatballs as part of the refreshments he provides for weary Sencos each year. Inclusive has the new Choose and Tell: Fairy Tales. Featuring Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Rapunzel, it could be too pink and girly for some but they also have ChooseIt! Maker 2 which lets staff create on-screen decision-making activities and quizzes. It will work with a mouse, whiteboard, touch monitor, keyboard or switches.

Resource will be showing Number Bunnies which is just fabulous on an interactive whiteboard, and a new painting program Albert's Paintbox. There are six profiles, starting with simple visual menus aimed at children aged 4+ who are not yet reading but it still has a lot to offer to older children who don't cope well with information overload.

Despite the rebellion, there is plenty to see in the main house but you'll need to put on your hiking boots. For Planning Preparation and Assessment time, see Classroom Monitor's SEN module based on the P-Levels. Crick has collaborated with Espresso on Food and Weather, part of a new series called ClickerVision (review p80). These CDs contain video clips and newspaper articles and lots of differentiated activities. At the other end of the age range, Ransom Publishing will show the Dark Man series of reading books and interactive software. These look good, but Ransom needs to change its marketing. Describing their materials as designed "for functionally illiterate teenagers and young adults" will deter some potential purchasers. A little sensitivity is called for here.

If you have pupils with a visual impairment, have a look at Magnilink (review Web Extra www.tes.co.uk online) from Professional Vision Services, a portable closed circuit TV which will connect directly to a computer.

Other pupils will benefit from ClaroView, which is an on-screen overlay which will change the colour of everything you look at on your monitor.

This is really good for some pupils with dyslexia too Sherston will be in the main hall, the SEN village and the Fringe. You will know their staff by their running shoes and white exhausted faces. I was amused to see they are featuring Barnaby Bear Tours the UK and Barnaby Bear's Local Walkabouts. It seems that Sherston want staff to live the titles before they sell them. In contrast Don Johnston software has left BETT and taken over a near-by pub - the Hand and Flower - to launch the Start to Finish Core Content series for Science, Geography and History.

"We've already invested in new technology to make it easier for people to see our products," said Jamie Munro. "Phone our office to arrange a demonstration on your own computer screen. In an age where we are all being pressured to travel less and are all so short of time, this seems a sensible solution."

Widgit is launching a range of very cheap and even free books and worksheets for Communicate in Print 2, designed to support the curriculum in mainstream and special schools. Widgit has stayed on stand B30 and refused to move with the village. "Inclusion is high on government agendas," said Tina Detheridge, "and so to move us, for however worthy a reason, is to go against that whole message. They are trying to send us to the back of the class, as has happened to so many pupils with special needs."

Don't miss

Literacy Activity Builder black cat Stand E40F40

Take any piece of text and create up to nine different activities for your class. The program gives you over 50 examples of matching, sorting and literacy exercises to get you going. Devised for foundation to key stage 2, this could be used for any age range as it contains a set of wizards to help you create a host of activities.


The Portland Partnership Project Cambridge Training and Development (CTAD) Stand SN36

CTAD and Portland College have developed some amazing age-appropriate activities for young people with more severe disabilities. The Project will let centres develop a virtual learning environment for adults working at pre-entry level.


Handheld Virtual Whiteboard LJ Group Stand D60

This whiteboard uses Bluetooth wireless technology and special software. My two favourite features are that they encourage teachers to "pre-build"

lessons at home using PowerPoint. Secondly, it will benefit pupils in wheelchairs and let them take a more active part in lessons.


Other contacts

In the special needs village: Claro software Stand SN18 www.clarosoftware.com

Professional Vision Services Stand SN54 www.professional-vision-services.co.uk

Sherston Stand SN52 www2.sherston.com

In the fringe: Frolunda Stand S03 www.inclusive.co.uk

Inclusive Stand S10 www.inclusive.co.uk

Resource Stand S22 www.resourcekt.co.uk

Sherston Stand S27 www2.sherston.com

Traxsys Stand S13 www.traxsys.com

In the main hall: Crick Stand B38 www.cricksoft.comuk

Classroom Monitor Stand SW30 www.primeprinciple.co.uk

Ransom Publishing Stand P78 www.ransom.co.uk

Sherston Stand E60 www2.sherston.com

Widgit Stand B30 www.widgit.com

In the Hand and Flower pub on Hammersmith Road Don Johnston software

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