nasen SEN training flyerAll schools in England now have access to free special needs training from SEN organisation nasen, funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

"A Whole School Approach to improving Access, Participation and Achievement", in its first version for secondary schools, is free to all school Sencos (special needs co-ordinators), and has been designed to help them provide flexible whole-school professional development to support teachers "in meeting the needs of all learners in addition to meeting the increased remit of their role following the launch of the new Ofsted framework".

Sally McKeown visits an innovative community scheme helping autistic kids to communicate
BoardMaker symbols checklistStudent checklist created with 'BoardMaker'How can parents and community groups access software resources that might be otherwise too expensive for them? A project between Mayer-Johnson and Leeds libraries may point the way.

Mayer-Johnson's BoardMaker Studio software, which has been shortlisted for the BETT 2012 ICT Special Educational Needs Solutions award, is being cheered on by a group of parents and librarians from Leeds who have won a crop of awards themselves using this symbol software to support children with communication  difficulties.

Using switches for the first time? Hilary Norton looks at two sources of help
Cover If children are beginning to use switches in your classroom, there are two new products that will prove invaluable.

The first, Learning Journeys: Switch Progression Road Map, is a booklet (free to download) to support the teacher in assessing children’s capabilities, setting targets for them and teaching the skills that they need to access communication and learning. The second is Switch Skills Champions software, also from Inclusive Technology, which offers the learners exciting games that take them through various levels of switch use starting with very simple exercises for beginners.

Clear your throat and get singing. Hilary Norton gets to grips with some engaging counting songs
Counting Songs 1 screenshot'Counting Songs': geared for fun and engagementThese two CDs of counting songs will help reinforce this early maths skill in a lively and engaging way. Counting Songs 1 is aimed at children just mastering early number and features 10 popular songs which you will recognise, although some of the words have changed to cover only the numbers to five. The lovable animated characters engage the children, encouraging them to count along with the music.

Counting Songs 2 is similar, although this set of catchy, foot-tapping, sing-along songs has been specially written with an attractive and contemporary beat. Here different levels of interaction are offered as more suitable to motivate older children, including teens.

John Galloway reviews two literacy tools that work with your regular software programs
WordqWordq and Speakq are a pair of tools designed to 'sit' on top of any open application to help users cope with text – both by making it easier to write, and by reading it out.

Designed "for struggling writers", there may be nothing particularly innovative about either of them individually; what is new is that they work together.