DfE's technology blind spot blights new SEN reforms, warns BATA
Mark McCuskerMark McCuskerThe Coalition Government has come in for more criticism for its lack of understanding about technology for learning. Its plans for the biggest shake-up in special education needs for a generation has overlooked the benefits of technology, according to the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA), and they could miss out helping the majority of children with special needs.

“The paper essentially overlooks the potential for assistive technology to enhance lives and improve educational outcomes for children with special needs,” says Mark McCusker, chairman of BATA. “In addition, assistive technology has the potential to save money, which in a times of austerity, surely should rank highly."

Dore may have attracted controversy, but Sal McKeown thinks it's worth careful consideration
Dore activityDore work on concentration and motor skillsThe Dore Programme for treating children with dyslexia with a series of exercises is controversial. It has been slammed in the press and derided as the "wobbly board" method. Critics claim that it lacks scientific validity.

However, some schools are beginning to look at adopting it as a solution for different forms of specific learning difficulties, so  it is time to lay aside prejudices and take a closer look. And visitors to the Dore SEN open day, and to the TES Special Needs Midlands show in Birmingham, can check it out for themselves (details below).

Martin Littler marks the loss of one the UK's leading centres of SEN expertise
Oxford Ace CentreOne of the UK’s most influential and longest serving special needs assessment centres – the Oxford ACE Centre – will close its doors due to cuts in education spending.

The decision was taken at an extraordinary general meeting of trustees last week (March 29) and affects Oxford ACE only (Northern ACE Centre is a separate charity and is not affected). Had the decision to close not been taken cash-flow issues would have forced closure within weeks.

David CameronPM David Cameron on ACE (picture: YouTube)PM David Cameron pledges help for crisis-hit ACE Centre
The impending closure of the Oxford ACE Centre on May 9 is presenting prime minister David Cameron and his Coalition Government with a test of their commitment to the most vulnerable learners in the UK and the use of technology to support their communication needs.

More than 890 people have already signed the government e-petition to save the centre and, in response to a question from Andrew Smith MP, David Cameron acknowledged the pioneering work of the centre and pledged that he would look for ways to help.

Sally McKeown meets educators with a remarkable record for helping learners most in need
Professor Lord Robert Winston, world famous scientist and TV presenter, opened the brand new £2 million North West London Independent School in Ealing last week.

The school educates some of the most challenging young people in London and offers them a chance to use first-rate ICT facilities to get qualifications and to nurture often hidden talents.