By Sally KcKeown
Policy Exchange logoLast week a senior secondary teacher told me that his school has no pupils with dyslexia. This may be true. However, given that estimates from dyslexia organisations show that 1 child in 10 has dyslexic tendencies, it is unlikely.

So I was particularly interested in a new report from research organisation Policy Exchange – supported by NASEN, the national body for special needs – which reinforces the view that many teachers have limited awareness of special needs and are not able to cater effectively for young people who need specialist support.

Maureen McTaggart visits the Children's Hospital School at Great Ormond Street
Great Ormond Street Hospital SchoolHow Hannah attends kitchen sessions at Gt Ormond Street (more below)Under the watchful eye of Jenny, the classroom assistant, Hannah mixes together the ingredients for muffins – sugar, flour, eggs, milk and lemon rind. Soon the mixture is ready for the oven and the mess is cleared up. So what’s the big deal you might ask?

The five-year-old learner, clad in chef’s hat and apron, is sitting up in bed and iChat on her Apple MacBook is connecting her to 17 other similarly-clad students doing the same thing in a classroom five floors below. Intersperse with a few feeding tubes, the odd dialysis machine, wheelchair and crutches and the picture becomes clear – we’re in hospital.

By Sally McKeown
Martin LittlerBATA's Martin LittlerWorries that no news could be bad news for Government plans for the Home Access project, and in particular what it intends to do for children with special needs, have led the chair of the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA), Martin Littler, to seek an assurance from education secretary Michael Gove MP on the fulfilment of the project.

Under the Home Access scheme, more than 250,000 homes will receive a free computer or broadband internet connection or both in an attempt to support families on low income with ICT for learning and reduce the effects of the "digital divide". (Update below.)

By Chris Drage
RM One TouchThe 'marriage' of RM and Inclusive Technology could be one made in heaven if the new RM One Touch is anything to go by. Between them they have produced a responsive touch-screen, all-in-one PC (left) designed specifically for the needs of learners.

Thanks to Windows 7, touch-screen technology is becoming more common on PCs and its simplicity will make it popular with all age groups. Its appeal includes young learners and those with special education needs, who instinctively explore with their hands to interact directly with the computer. And the RM One Touch package, originally aimed at SEN pupils, is finding just as big an appeal in early learning departments.

BATA founder members

By Martin Littler

Promptly at 4:30 the formal meeting closed and 27 of the founder members (click on picture for full view and caption) of the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) toasted their future with champagne. The setting, the Shaftsbury Room of the Grade 1 listed Institute of Directors building in Pall Mall, was distinctly un-shedlike while the CEOs of key UK assistive technology companies were more amused than bruised by the “Men in Sheds” sobriquet reportedly applied to them by officials (see earlier article).

In their two-and-a-half-hour meeting they discussed the scope of assistive technology, finalised the aims of the association; approved the name, logo and URL; discussed membership levels, service levels and subscriptions; decided its legal form and elected six of its nine directors.