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.”

John Galloway welcomes a simple and accessible approach to making music

The SkoogMusic made simple and accessible: the SkoogThere are not many instruments that you squeeze to get a note – the accordion, the harmonium and the bagpipes spring to mind, but little else. Maybe that’s because they are difficult to play, or perhaps difficult to listen to. But now there’s a new one that overcomes both those problems. It’s called the Skoog.

This recent innovation from Scotland is a white polyurethane cube, about the size of an economy box of tea bags, that has semi-circular coloured protuberances on five sides (the sixth being the base). It is played by pressure. Press anywhere on any one of its surfaces and your energy is turned into sound – not by air but by electronics.

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.

By Sally McKeown
Bob the BuilderBob the Builder with fanAt the BETT Special Needs Fringe in 2007 you could spot the grandparents. They all queued up to have their photo taken with Bob the Builder.

None of the parents bothered; they'd had the delights of Bob most of the week and were too busy enjoying time out with free wine and canapés courtesy of Inclusive Technology. Three years later, the company and Bob have smashed their target and made £60,000 for Manchester's New Children’s Hospital Appeal.

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.