Shadow minister warns of SEN 'race to bottom' and BBC expert calls for accessibility for all new technology
Sharon Hodgson, Nadia ClarkeSharon Hodgson MP with her guest at BATA, Nadia Clarke who works with the Centre for Welfare ReformThe potential gains held out to learners with special educational needs in the Government's Green Paper could be dashed by failure to tighten legislation, warned shadow schools and families minister Sharon Hodgson MP at the annual meeting of the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) last week.

And the BBC’s disability correspondent Peter White amplified that warning, saying that benefits gained by people with special needs were always vulnerable without strong safeguards. It was now time, he added, for fresh legislation to ensure that all new technologies are designed with SEN and inclusion in mind.

MPP photoYoung people 'have a strong voice, and important messages to deliver, and should not be ignored'

The frisson between educators and 'vulnerable' youth can be productive. Tony Parkin reports from 'Munch Poke, Ping'

A lively group of teenage students are on the train with their teacher. Someone sitting opposite asks "Which school are you from?" "The Bridge Academy," they proudly reply. "Oh, and what is your specialism?" is the educationally-informed stranger’s follow-up question. They giggle, and look at one another... "Bad behaviour," one of them replies.

The Munch, Poke, Ping Conference explored the implications of the mobile internet for helping young, vulnerable people, such as the Bridge Academy students and others in pupil referral units (PRUs), to develop their online resilience.

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."

Jackie Hewitt MainJackie Hewitt Main outside Chelmsford PrisonSal McKeown on a project bringing literacy where it's most needed – in jail
Swedish literacy software Lexion is playing a large part in an innovative prison education project. The software has been used to assess prisoners in Chelmsford prison and to provide them with a series of carefully graduated activities to help improve their basic skills.

Frank, aged 67, has spent much of his life in prison but for the first time he is able to send letters home and, more important, he can read the replies. These achievements are recognised in a new report, Dyslexia Behind Bars.

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).