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Practical work tips for learners with SEND

By Robert Butler posted 30-03-2022 14:21


Read the blog, then join the discussion in the Primary STEMTeaching 11-19 Science and Technicians groups - tell us what strategies you use during practical work to meet the needs of your learners.

The Gatsby practical science report reminded teachers of the importance of practical work to scientists, listing five reasons why we do practical work: 

  1. To teach the principles of scientific inquiry
  2. To improve understanding of theory through practical experience
  3. To teach specific practical skills, such as measurement and observation, that may be useful in future study or employment
  4. To motivate and engage students
  5. To develop higher level skills and attributes such as communication, teamwork and perseverance

Each one of these is relevant to learners with special educational needs, and some of these will be important - and possibly life changing - employability skills as well.

We understand the importance of managing cognitive load for all learners, so try the following:

  • Break tasks down into small bite sized pieces
  • Keep the instructions as simple as possible – try and use shorter sentences to give instructions. Perhaps give each person in a group a specific set of instructions
  • Consider using dual coding – create a set of graphic instructions and talk to these (this is not the same as reading instructions with learners!)
  • Have established routines for practical work – setting up, clearing away and of course during practical work
  • Think about the grouping of your learners – make sure peer support is available if needed
  • Consider role badges/assigning roles in practical work so that all students get a broad range of skills and experiences

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04-04-2022 11:28

At STEMPOINT East, we have been asked to put together a workshop for Special Needs students- Highlighting careers in STEM careers, but realistic for them. We are visiting the school so we can gauge their ability.
Any suggestions welcome.

31-03-2022 10:19

Hello Everyone! 

I'm 40 now and although not diagnosed I believe I'm dyslexic and on the autistic spectrum.

This sort of advice to my teachers would have made my school experience very different!

One of the things that frustrated me when at school was constantly being told the solutions to things especially mathematics and science without being told about the problem that it solves.

I wish teachers would give a problem, let the student try to solve it (ideally fail to solve it) without help and then be given the solution.

My nephew was studying A-Level mathematics and was struggling with calculus and I could see that he had not been explained the principle even in as simple terms as rate of change or given a real-world example of acceleration vs speed. I believe this helped him to understand rather than parrot fashion repeating solutions to abstract mathematics problems or then he might have been just polite :D

Keep up the good work folks,