Collaborative Inquiry for Teachers and Pupils

I usually write about ICT and SEN but found this article interesting both as a teacher and a researcher. I feel that collaborative inquiry  amongst teachers from similar disciplines a great way to engage and motivate teachers and students. It sounds simple but the usual excuses of not enough time or finances seems to impede such things. So why not consider the long view and get senior management teams to consider planning a three year programme. MirandaNet can help put the academic element together with you and this would benefit the school in several ways:-

  • relates the the real issues of classroom practise
  • combines theory and practise whilst teaching a theoretical method to those unfamiliar with it.
  • sense of achievement through being in control of the research
  • joint ownership of the approach that is…
  • .. non-threatening due to peer mentoring
  • fresh ideas and new directions can emerge through the process of research
  • and a nice carrot of a certificate or outcome that is tangible would be good but I am sure not always certain.

Anyway, why not read for yourself and make some enquiries from Dr Gary Jones, University of Bristol, about it as an alternative to your usual CPD:-

Collaborative Inquiry for Teachers and Pupils


Understanding each other

Being misunderstood or at best mistaken is a problem for people with learning disabilities as well as for everyone. The reason this occurs is due to not reading facial expressions as emotions or having what is called emotional intelligence to read how the other person is feeling. And then a catastrophic breakdown in relationships can occur!

I have witnessed this often. Even when showing images like the one above many individuals with a learning disability might be able to read that emotion as it’s dramatic and at an extreme level – anger – as opposed to nuances of emotions like confusion and anxiety which I think is difficult for many people with learning disabilities to read . See the image below and these nuances are more difficult to decipher. What is the ladies emotion for instance? Couple that with body language and being able to not read that a lot of communication is being missed – causing mis-communication to occur. 

To function in society we need to read facial expressions and body language. So is there a hidden and far more impacting disability arising when you can’t make those connections. Autistic people struggle with these skills but my hypothesis is that many people with learning disabilites also have this problem. So how do we teach or improve these skills


Use photographs which you can readily get off the internet and use in a 1:1 session or group session asking what emotion is being shown in the images. Choose emotions that are more subtle rather than the extremes of happy, sad. How about worried, fearful, stressed, thoughtful, concentrating, distracted, irritable. Do the same with full-body images to show boredom, anxiety, slouching, slumping.


When a mis-communication between people with learning disabilities occur stop and explain that they have not understood the other person . Get each person to tell the other person how they feel or rehearse the message.


Many mis-communications occur because the individuals are not looking at each other and reading their total communication. Use phrases such as “Look at…name of the person>” and encourage a replay of what each person was trying to explain to the other person. Looking at another person’s face is difficult for autistic people but using the computer can help.

Interactive Materials

“Emotions reader” by John Haberson from the iTune store (£7.49) is a good tool to use as it demonstrates via an interactive book on an iPad different emotions like affection, amusement, approval. This is good for gaining understanding but needs to be grounded in generalisation in everyday settings where the different emotions can be read properly. Just going through a longlist is not going to help

Use a camera

Mobile phones, iPads and tablets all have a camera that can take a facial or body language learning opportunity. Taking  familiar people  may help individuals in your groups to read the emotions of others correctly. Using video can playback situations they have been in where mis-communication has occured to learn from especially if it has just happened. This needn’t be saved and anaylsed too deeply but a way of exploring a situation immediately due to the short attention span and memory of some individuals with learning disabilities.

Use drama

To explore situations in which the individuals in your group or setting repeatedly mis-read their communications and act out rather like a social story showing the implications of their actions which inevitably has consequences!

Although we have used LDA cards with speech and language therapists to do this kind of work I don’t think it is being done enough judging by the adults I meet on a regular basis who are totally unaware of their difficulties in reading other people’s emotions. In this age of personal plans and so much care given around care “the way you want it” it makes people even more egocentric then perhaps they were already. Perhaps we should have a curriculum subject called ” Understanding each other” where empathy is taught more explicitly. Of course you may well be doing all this already and have found this article a bit patronising. I am sorry if that’s the case and pat you on the back for your sterling work!

Myles Pilling is a retired special schools teacher and an assistive technologist for AccessAbility Solutions –  – he is a blogger, writer and researcher as well as lecturer and trainer. 

Do not leave a man (or child) behind

This is a tile of a NAACE article I wrote expressing my concerns over the present trend for academies and league table positions that might leave children with SEN behind. Are you a SENCO? Do you have an opinion? Please let me know what you think the current state of SEN in schools is. Please click the link below to read the article:-



Lima – a true cost-saving cloud device

Always on the look out for a great device that gives innovation. Lima seems such an idea for one-off cost (£70) you can have portability of all your files and folders across all your devices without the cost of a monthly fees.  The way it works it connects your files and you via your external drive and your modem – so its accessible whenever you need it. With powerful encryption that only you can know and access it is safe from hackers – especially if you use an unbreakable code of random letters and numbers. The question to ask is – do you need access to your data all the time – data being photographs, films, documents, etc? I am not sure yet I need that. I do use cloud based storage which I use to do applications with rather than use data all the time. I have a google drive and a dropbox so not sure I need this yet but the idea is based on you being able to access your data remotely – even when you computer is switched off! That maybe a reason. Anyway want to know more?


Screening for individual needs

I have come across a couple of useful tools that deal with identification of need. The first tool is doitprofiler. This will identify for your school or workplace a need someone might have and make suggestions to help that individual. Their is a school and workplace tool. Go to Costs vary according to the tools used Screening + profiler £48

Vision screening can identify something that is often overlooked when considering someone’s lack of achievement . This free tool can enable you to find out if someone has a visual need. Worth checking your pupils out at

If you prefer face to face training then take a look at this facebook page It’s not free  but might provide you with valuable insights you could make to your organisation . Here is what they say:-

“I would like to invite you to one of our ‘Visual Impairment Awareness Open Courses’. We are running the following courses:

  • Manchester 29th March
  • Newcastle – 30th March
  • Glasgow – 31st March
  • London – 4th April
  • Birmingham – 5th April
  • Cardiff – 8th April

This training session will give you the opportunity to develop the fundamental skills and knowledge to support your visually impaired customers and staff effectively.

The course will cover:

  • Main eye conditions and their effects
  • Emotional impact of sight loss
  • How to guide and assist a blind or partially sighted person
  • Appropriate language and effective communication
  • Reasonable adjustments in compliance with the Equality Act 2010
  • The importance of eye health care
  • How the built environment can enable or disable people

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Please find attached leaflet and invite your colleagues.

Kindest Regards,

Daniel Williams

Managing Director

Visualise Training and Consultancy


Twitter:VisualiseTC ”


AAS on SENDirect

AccessAbility Solutions are being a provider to parents and families of children who might like advice, support, training in the use of ICT . Working with partners in the IT education industry AAS hope to be of service . Click on our page and see what we can offer:-

SENDirect Round Table Event

I had the good fortune to attend this event which told me quite a bit about SENDirect. Parents , Providers and Professionals were all present sharing good practise and how best to use SENDirect. They are about to publish important research on personal budgets and information about what is available to parents. If I were to sum up the whole of this meeting it would be the need for communication between all parties.It’s been going for a year and its now gathering pace.The idea is to be a “one stop shop” or first call to find a range of services. So if you run a service in England and would like to be included then please join for free and enter your details of your service. You will need to prepare yourself with some documentation , namely, proof of insurance, safeguarding policy, cancellation policy.

If you are a parent of a child with special needs or know of someone requiring ICT help then please pass on this link:-

Special Needs Teaching and Education

Inclusive teaching, education, and resources for Autism.


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