There are a range of special needs which you will need to take into consideration when planning for schools to use your museum.
What are special educational needs?
- The term ‘special educational needs’ has a legal definition.
- Children with special educational needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn, or access schools, than most children of the same age.
- These children may need extra help or different help from that given to other children of the same age.
- Children with special educational needs may need extra help because of a range of needs, such as in thinking and understanding, physical or sensory difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties, difficulties with speech and language or difficulties in how they relate to and behave with other people.
Supporting special needs
- Help for children with special educational needs will usually be in the child’s ordinary, mainstream early years setting or school, sometimes with the help of outside specialists.
- All schools have a SENCO (SEN Coordinator) with whole school responsibility.
- Teachers will consider a number of options and choose the most appropriate ways to help each child learn from a range of activities. This is often described as ‘differentiating the curriculum’.
- Children with the most prolonged or complex needs may be recommended for assessment and may as a result have a “statement”. A statement records a child’s needs and recommends how, and where, to meet them. This may include a special school. Statements are reviewed annually.
- Special schools and units in mainstream schools may provide for children with particular types of special needs, e.g. hearing impairment.
- Some special schools caters a range of special educational needs including learning and physical disabilities. Some schools are residential and some are day schools.
What can museums do?
- Ensure that provision for schools is covered by access and inclusion policies and conforms to the Equalities Act.
- Check whether pupils have any particular needs with schools when they book.
- Make sure anyone delivering to school groups is up-to-date with the kinds of needs you are most likely to encounter. The SENCO at your local school may be able to help you.
- Try to create activities that will work at different levels and are as inclusive as possible.
- Renaissance South East’s information sheet on increasing access for primary schools. (PDF, 86 Kb)
- Renaissance South East’s information sheet on Museums and sensory impairment. (PDF, 70 Kb)
- National Deaf Children’s Society for publication Deaf Friendly Teaching (PDF, 1.12MB).
- Department for Education special needs pages
- Gov.uk for A – Z of local councils
- Mencap is the UK’s leading learning disability charity
- RNIB website has a download Talking Images (PDF, 2MB). This is a practical guide for all those responsible for improving access in museums, galleries and the built and historic environment
- National Deaf Children’s Society for more information on working with children with hearing impairment.
- The Government Equalities Office for up-to-date information on legal requirements in meeting all needs, not just SEN.
- Teachers TV has a section on SEN and a short programme on differentiation that includes how schools include SEN students.