Nancy Gedge, Inclusion for Primary School Teachers

Bloomsbury, 2016, ISBN 978-1-4729-2114-7

This is an extremely helpful guide to supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities in the classroom. An experienced teacher and SEND specialist, and the parent of a child with learning difficulties, Gedge demystifies a very complex topic and provides innumerable practical tips for breaking down barriers to learning. Her text is accessible without being simplistic. The book is compassionate and non-judgemental - of children, who may have all sorts of behavioural and other issues; of parents and carers, whose struggles are often overwhelming; and of teachers, who may be confused and not always get things right.

While Gedge is clear from the start that there are no quick fixes when it comes to good inclusive classroom practice, she gives a huge range of thoughtful, tried and tested strategies that will over time make a big difference, for instance on differentiation, behaviour, the learning environment, assessment and building relationships. Everything is in the context of the SEND Code of Practice. The very helpful breakdown of different special needs is accompanied by warnings of the dangers of stereotypes and unconscious bias. A diagnostic label must never define a child. All have unique personalities, and different sets of interests, strengths and challenges. Gedge urges teachers to constantly question their assumptions and to be prepared to rethink their ideas and methodologies. She stresses the importance of getting to know each child with SEND, and spending time listening to and directly teaching them. There is useful advice on the role of support staff, to avoid the risk of learned helplessness. High expectations are crucial, she says, and children with SEND, like everyone else, must be given opportunities to experience success. For some of them grasping and retaining knowledge and skills may take a very long time, but with appropriate support all can make progress, and all need and deserve to feel valued for the steps they take.

Recommended. This will be invaluable for new teachers who are unclear about their responsibilities in relation to SEND issues and how to fulfil them. Experienced staff too will find new ideas, insights and reassurance.