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Dene Dunn

Dene Dunn

Hi my name is Dene and I work for Portsmouth Disability Forum maintaining and developing their websites. We are always looking to improve our website and welcome any feedback you may have as this helps us to create a website that is easy to navigate, understand and meets your information needs. If you have any suggestions please feel free to email me (denedunn@blueyonder.co.uk).

Posted by on in SEN - Personal Experience

Undesirable behaviour from our children is much more obvious than desirable behaviour.  Hence we are more likely to notice when they are misbehaving than when they are behaving well, thus, a child is likely to receive much more attention from their parents/carers for behaving badly than for when they behave well.  This can lead them to repeat the undesirable behaviour because it gets them noticed by you.

It can be useful to redress the balance - try to 'catch your child doing something good'!  Look for opportunities to offer praise and encouragement when they are exhibiting desirable behaviour - things you would like them to repeat.  Look for small achievements as well as large ones and times when your child/young person has demonstrated effort even if they have not yet achieved some final goal.

Receiving praise is likely to make your child/young person feel good and nurture their self-esteem and confidence.  I read once that children need at least 5 times as many compliments as criticisms. Building self-esteem and confidence is important for everyone especially children and young people and most of all those with additional needs who have to take extra "knocks" when growing up.

Some people worry that praising their children will  lead them to be over-confident or conceited; however I would suggest that it is more of a risk to give a child too little praise, rather than too much.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Often parents who are either waiting for a diagnosis (or where there is an unconfirmed diagnosis) sometimes wonder whether they should wait until there is a definite diagnosis before talking to their child's school. Obviously this is the parents decision but schools need to know as much as possible about the child to be able to support them in the best way.

It is their individual needs and the impact that this has for them in the school environment that matters. The child is no different and their needs are exactly the same with or without a diagnosis. The important thing is to identify the child’s needs and then see what can be put in place to meet these. The earlier these are identified and start being addressed the better.

The label attached to the diagnosis is useful to inform people, it can guide on strategies and approaches, and it can make obtaining funding/support easier but it can also lead to preconceived ideas and lower expectations. It is the specific needs of the individual that is the important thing. Every child with Down’s syndrome is different, every child on the autistic spectrum is different, and every child with cerebral palsy is different just as every child without any additional needs is different. Having a diagnosis is helpful and important but knowing the individual needs of the child and working together to meet these is the fundamental factor. 

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iSign Booklet WEB-1The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) have published a new guide for families of young deaf children in England on learning British Sign Language.

The guide explains some of the reasons why parents learn BSL as well as outlining the support that might be available to them from their local authority. The guide also describes barriers some parents have faced in learning BSL and how access could be improved through the forthcoming Special Educational Needs reforms.

Please click here to visit the NDCS website and download the PDF guide, alternatively, you can order a printed copy from their Helpline: 0808 800 8880 or email: helpline@ndcs.org.uk or click on the link below:

I sign guide

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Last autumn the Department for Education launched a public consultation on a new Code of Practice. By the time the consultation closed on 9th December it had received over 700 responses. Over the last four months the responses have been collated and analysed resulting in further discussions to ensure that revisions secure maximum clarity for those who will be using it.

Today the revisions made to the Code since the public consultation have been made available by the Department of Education and can be viewed online at www.education.gov.uk/consultations/.

The next stage will be for the Department for Education to consult on the revised Code of Practice and more information about how to take part in this consultation can be found on their website at www.education.gov.uk/consultations/. The consultation will run from 16th April to Tuesday 6th May at 5:00pm.

The Council for Disabled Children have published a news article which gives an overview of the revisions since the 2013 public consultation together with the consultation questions - to read this article please click on the link below:


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Children's minister Edward Timpson and health minister Dr Dan Poulter have written to teachers, colleges, local authorities and parents about the SEND reforms, describing the changes the Department for Education is introducing in September 2014 to improve support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The first 3 letters ask local authoritiescolleges and teachers working with children with SEND to implement the reforms correctly.

The fourth letter is for parents of children with SEND and explains what the move to the new system will mean for them and their family.

To view any of these letters please click on the links above.

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The Council for Disabled Children (CDC), Contact a Family, National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) and National Parent Partnership Network (NPPN) have worked together to produce a document designed to support parent and carers through SEND reforms. The Children and Families Act will change the way in which children and young people with Special Educational Needs and disabilities are supported at school and in the community. The Act will be implemented in stages starting in September 2014.

The document covers:

  • What is in the Act
  • What does this mean in real life?
  • How can I find out what early years providers, schools, colleges, social care and health should do?
  • How can I get involved?
  • What can I do if I am worried about how this will affect my child?
  • When is this going to happen?

To read all about the changes please click on the link below:

pdfSEND-Reforms-what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-and-do.pdf94.7 KB

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The new Children and Families Act will mean changes to the law to give greater protection to vulnerable children, better support for children whose parents are separating, a new system to help children with special educational needs and disabilities, and help for parents to balance work and family life.

The Act will extend the SEN system from birth to 25, giving children, young people and their parents greater control and choice in decisions and ensuring needs are properly met. It takes forward the reform programme set out in 'Support and aspiration: a new approach to special education needs and disability - progress and next steps'.

The key changes include:

  • Giving parents and young people control over the decisions about the support they are given.
  • The introduction of Education, Health and Care plans in replacement of Statements.
  • Personal budgets for parents and young people to carry out their EHC plans
  • A requirement on local authorities to provide a Local Offer which will include the education, health and care services


Although now an Act the law will not change until September 2014.

To see the Act in full, please see below. The part of the Act that addresses SEBD is Chapter 3.


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The Children’s Minister has been addressing an event hosted by the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) and In Control. Edward Timpson speaks about the NHS’s role in support for SEN


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Each week the Preparing for Adulthood Forum look at an element of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms and consider how it interacts with the reforms as a whole to create positive outcomes for young people with SEN and disabled young people.

The Preparing for Adulthood (PfA) team believes that it is vital to consider the SEND reforms as a whole when developing processes and plans in local areas however, they also appreciate that there are specific challenges related to each element. Their forum gives you an opportunity to pose questions and raise challenges that you are experiencing in local areas as a result of getting ready to implement the reforms and to receive responses from regional champions, experts from the sector and the PfA team.

Please click on the link below to join the forum and get your questions answered.


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Posted by on in SEN Support - Facts

Do you often wonder what some words/terms mean? For example, 'Senco' - only to think "what is a Senco?"

If you are not sure what some of the abbreviations or definitions used on our website mean then why not take a quick look at our Glossary.

To help you understand the meaning of any words that are featured in the glossary they are identified by a dotted blue line underneath them; if you hover over the word a pop up box will explain what the word means. The word will only appear once on a page.

If you wish to view the complete Glossary then please click here.

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