By Maureen McTaggart
Racheda AliRacheda Ali: beating her fearsTen weeks ago Racheda Ali (left) was too scared to even look at a laptop and didn’t know how to open one. Now the 41-year-old graduate of one of Sheffield’s "Communicating for Success" courses is confidently using computer games and her son’s laptop to help her 6-year-old daughter make the grade in her primary class.

“I have wanted to learn how to use computers for a long time but was a bit scared to go out and about, which is the case for a lot of Muslim women,” she said. “When I heard about the ICT classes being held at my daughter’s primary school, I jumped at the chance to sign up.”

John Galloway welcomes a helpful new handbook
Futurelab publicationResearchers at Futurelab, the internationally renowned ICT in education research group, approach their handbooks in a very well-grounded way. They combine a solid academic base with practical examples, and research outputs from their innovative, if sometimes slightly eccentric, projects.

Using digital technologies to promote inclusive practices in education begins with a very easy-to-read overview of the development of the "inclusion" agenda, - from the trends of the 1980s and 1990s to build more special schools, to the policy around the turn of the century to have greater integration, and the shift in language, and focus, from SEN to "inclusion".

By Sally McKeown

Lorraine PetersenLorraine PetersenLorraine Petersen has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to education. Lorraine is chief executive of nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs) and has worked in mainstream and special schools both as a teacher and head.

With over 25 years’ practical experience, she is widely recognised as an expert on special needs and is a well known keynote speaker, campaigning for the most vulnerable children in the education system.

By Sally McKeown

Martin LittlerMartin Littler, chairman of Inclusive Technology (left), has plenty to smile about. He has just won two awards. First he was named as Oldham Businessman of the Year and then the company won a Rotary Club award for community service.

Delighted to win his award, he said, " I think that we have built up a successful business because the three of us who founded Inclusive Technology had all been special needs teachers, so we not only understood our market, we were our market."

Martin LittlerMartin LittlerGood intentions for special needs provision in the Government's Home Access scheme quickly soured when providers of the technology for learners discovered - by accident - that they had just a week to come up with suitable assistive technology.

This has left the scheme "mired in muddle and discourtesy", says Martin Littler, chairman of leading SEN company Inclusive Technology, and a member of Becta's Expert Reference Group on Inclusion. The scheme is exected to help around 270,000 learners, a significant percentage of whom may require additional help - possibly as many as 54,000.