John Galloway explores the special needs technology void left by the closure of Becta
Chris StevensChris StevensThe bonfire of the quangoes' was lit a little over a year ago, and among the first on the pyre was Becta, the last whisp of which finally drifted away in March.

The closure, and what imprint might remain, were debated with widely varying views – from those who volunteered to strike the match, to those with buckets and hoses at the ready. In the small but highly dedicated field of ICT and special educational needs however, there was almost universal disappointment that Becta's small but expert team was going.

Sally McKeown visits Nasen to see Recordable Bar pick up the ICT award

Recordable BarAward winner Recordable Bar: affordable and robust"It may not have the flashing lights and the thumping music or the compere no one's heard of but the Nasen Awards are still well received by the wider special needs community," said one of the speakers at the Reebok stadium in Bolton where eight awards were presented.

The Nasen Awards represent 'excellence and best practice' in books and resources for special educational needs. There are awards for children's books, academic and professional resources and materials for classroom activities. There is also a highly regarded technology award for the ICT Resource to support Teaching and Learning.

By John Galloway

Logo for Hello campaign“It would stick in my throat to charge for something as essential as helping a child learn a necessary a thing, like asking for a glass of water,” explains Lorna Lloyd. She's talking about the www.commtap.org (Targets and Activities Project) website she created with Neil Thompson. It's highly popular, and packed with high-quality resources, and they are determined to keep it available free of charge.

The pair, both practising speech and language therapists, started the site in 2006 as a way of providing materials for teachers and teaching assistants to use in the often protracted time between their visits. Since then they have had more than half a million downloads of the materials.

John Galloway welcomes BBC's new inclusive online materials

NNC's 'Wanna be a Rockstar!"Wanna be a Rockstar" is the latest addition to BBC Classclips treasure trove of more than 400 films and animations providing good quality materials for classroom use.

This material for helping to teach pupils with more demanding learning difficulties is part of a rich vein of materials that will enrich learning for pupils of all ages and abilities. From exploring National Cycle Routes, to creating 3d maps and playing Hopscotch in Chinese, there is something for just about any lesson.

Ian LitterickIan LitterickThe British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) is calling for part of the pupil premium to be allocated for assistive technology. Responding to education secretary Michael Gove MP, who told the BBC that the curriculum is "a closed book" to children who are not literate, BATA literacy spokesperson Ian Litterick says, “In 2011 no learner should need to experience the curriculum as a closed book.

“Assistive technology allows students to listen to text books that they cannot read by traditional means. As the best schools are already aware, it gives independence, stops non-reading pupils falling inexorably behind and lessens reliance on teaching assistants. In addition, because pupils who use text-to-speech synthesis see and hear many more words, their literacy skills also improve.”