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.

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.

Sally McKeown visits an innovative community scheme helping autistic kids to communicate
BoardMaker symbols checklistHow 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.

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".

Clear your throat and get singing. Hilary Norton gets to grips with some engaging counting songs
Counting Songs 1 screenshotThese 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.