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17 September 2021

Do you need support to teach Computing to learners with SEND?

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Written by

Catherine Elliott | Educational Consultant

Around 15% of pupils in England currently access support for special educational needs, and this will be mirrored in the other UK countries and around the world[1]. Computing is an increasingly important subject for our young people, in order to prepare for life as responsible, safe and effective digital citizens. For learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) this may have added importance, as technology and accessibility tools can help widen access to learning and leisure. These young people also have the right to the same opportunities to access employment that requires digital skills.

At the same time, there are a number of barriers that may be faced by pupils with SEND studying computing. For example, learners with poor motor skills or physical disabilities may struggle with mouse control or using the keyboard; pupils with poor working memory may not be able to follow complex instructions or remember how to use the key tools in a piece of software without extra practise and support. Programming has its own challenges – from the overwhelming number of options in a block based language like Scratch, to text-based languages where syntax and spelling needs to be exact, which can be off-putting and demotivating for learners. However, it is also important to recognise the strengths young people with specific needs or disabilities may bring to the classroom too – motivation for the subject, team-working skills, creativity, big-picture thinking, or attention to detail.

Considering your experience teaching young people with SEND, what support do you need to help you ensure that they can access the curriculum? Do you need resources, advice or training?

The good news is that you are not on your own. Computing at School can help you in the following ways:

  • Get involved in the conversations on our Inclusion forum. Ask for help and share ideas and resources that have helped you with fellow educators.
  • CAS Include is the working party dedicated to widening access to computing. Visit the Inclusion page here for a collection of resources, and look out for upcoming events where teachers can ‘Hack the Curriculum’ to make accessible and relevant resources. The working group also welcomes new volunteers to help spread the word about diversity and inclusion.
  • There is a growing number of resources aimed at pupils with SEND in the resources area. For example, have you seen the Scratch Progression Resource that can be used to scaffold learning for all pupils when programming with Scratch?
  • There are also now several CAS Communities dedicated to SEND. Pop over to the Communities page and search SEND to find your nearest one, or join the CAS SEND Virtual community, where you can meet like-minded educators and access support.

So what else can you do? The CAS Community is all about you – the teacher of computing working in schools with a range of young people. Consider how you can contribute by asking questions on the forum, uploading a resource that you’ve used successfully with pupils with SEND, and join your local CAS SEND community. If there isn’t one local to you, how about leading your own community? In the first instance, head over to the forum and let us know what support you need, and any other places that you go to find help.


[1] Special educational needs and disability: an analysis and summary of data sources (May 2021) Department for Education


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