Special needs

19th May 2000 at 01:00

SPIRAL MATHEMATICS: Progression and continuity in mathematics for pupils working within Level 1. By David Banes. National Association for Special Educational Needs pound;10 Tel: 01827 311500

IMPLEMENTING THE NATIONAL NUMERACY STRATEGY FOR PUPILS WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES: Access to the Daily mathematics lesson. By Ann Berger, Denise Morris and Jane Portman. David Fulton pound;14

We all teach children with special needs. Many of us have pupils with very different abilities within one class; with some pupils at levels 1 and 2, and others at much earlier stages, planning progression for everyone is difficult. Special classes in both mainstream and special schools often encompass a wide age range as well as differences in ability to communicate and respond to oral and mental work.

Children with a wide range of special needs benefit from working alongside peers, but inclusive strategies need to be developed to achieve this and help with planning and practice is welcome.

Spiral Mathematics is aimed at special schools and reflects David Banes's experience as head of a residential school for pupils with cerebral palsy and severe and profound learning difficulties.

He advocates the spiral model of the maths curriculum and at the heart of his book is an outline of what this might mean in practice, taking three phases of development and applying these to national curriculum strands. In effect he shows what might be expected at each of the P-Levels (Preliminary-Levels) for each strand, then goes onto exemplify this by describing activities and contexts within which to develop them.

He includes much other material - advice for co-ordinaors, a sample mathematics policy, training materials to help staff reach a consensus on what maths means for children with severe learning difficulties and a set of theme or topic-based programmes of study for key stages 1-4. The book is always interesting, often amusing and thought-provoking. The end result is a much broader range of programmes for children working entirely within level 1, though he deals not at all here with the numeracy strategy.

For Ann Berger and her co-authors, the strategy is the starting point: Implementing the National Numeracy Strategy for Pupils With Learning Difficulties results from a Department for Education and Employment commission to provide further guidance on the numeracy strategy for pupils with special educational needs. As such it has a wide relevance to teachers in mainstream and special schools. Most useful is the breakdown of the 11 key objectives for reception into small steps consistent with both the P-Levels and the DFEE's latest supplement of examples for special schools, thus resolving the problem that originally the P-Levels were written for the national curriculum, not the numeracy strategy.

Well laid-out and easy to use, the whole book will be outstandingly useful to teachers and SENCOs, containing as it does guidance on inclusion strategies, the best chapter on questioning I have seen, examples of planning at all levels and a lovely supplement of number rhymes suitable for all ages. A video and training pack are available from Bristol city council, which developed the guidance materials and all are highly recommended.

Laurie Rousham is a numeracy consultant in Suffolk

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