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Supporting students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND): Selected reading

Written By: Beth O'Brien
8 min read

Teaching assistants have an important role to play in supporting children and adolescents with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This reading list provides general guidance and resources to support students with SEND in the classroom. There is also more specific support for the four broad areas of SEND including:

  • Communication and interaction needs e.g. Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)
  • Cognition and learning needs e.g. dyslexia 
  • Social, emotional and mental health difficulties e.g. anxiety
  • Sensory or physical needs e.g. hearing impairment 


This reading list seeks to support teaching assistants to further their learning journey and improve their practice. However, the resources may also prove useful for school leaders, teachers, pastoral leads and SENDCos.


General guidance and resources:

  • This is the recently proposed SEND and Alternative Provision Review (2022). The report outlines a series of proposals to improve SEND provision in England. There is also an easy read version, a short video version or a SchoolsWeek article which summarises the proposals. This Twinkl article explains how the proposals may specifically impact the work of teaching assistants. 
  • Various organisations and experts in the field have responded to the proposals outlined in the most recent SEND review. Some responses and recommendations can be found here: Education Select Committee; NASEN; Ambitious about Autism; Council for Disabled Children
  • This Education Endowment Fund (EEF) offers insights in the latest evidence-base around Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools. It also provides a range of research-informed strategies to implement in different school settings. It also offers a range of additional tools to support professional development, planning and reflection. 
  • The National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN) publishes a monthly magazine called  ‘Connect’ which you can access online for free. These monthly magazines will keep you up-to-date with the latest in SEND education.
  • NASEN also provides condition-specific videos to support students with a range of different additional needs.
  • Robert Webster’s, ‘The Inclusion Illusion’ explores how students with SEND experience mainstream schools. 
  • In this blogpost, Rob Webster explores the link between fostering an inclusive environment and improving working conditions for teaching assistants.
  • In this 2021 report, Webster et al. shed light on the significant impact teaching assistants had on students (particularly those with SEND) during the pandemic. 
  • In this 2022 report, Hall and Webster shed light on the changing role of the teaching assistant post-pandemic. The report also explores the impact of the cost living crisis on teaching assistants. 
  • The Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) provides a series of condition-specific webinars throughout the academic year for staff supporting students with a diverse range of additional needs.
  • The Special Needs Jungle is a parent-led platform that provides a range of articles, guidance and resources to keep up-to-date with the latest in SEND education.
  • The Down’s Syndrome Association hosted this webinar that discusses the concept of ‘Inclusive Education’, specifically focusing on the inclusion of children with SEND in the mainstream classroom.
  • In this blogpost , Dr Chandrika Devarakonda, Associate Professor at the University of Chester, discusses the importance of an intersectional approach when it comes to supporting students with SEND.
  • This Tes article highlights the importance of a whole-school approach to SEND provision. 
  • Subscribe to SEN’s free monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest issues and guidance in SEND education. 
  • This Scope reading list provides a range of storybooks featuring disabled characters and/or directly addresses the experience of living with a disability. 
  • Twinkl provides free access to a teaching assistant’s digest which includes articles, resources and guidance relevant to the role. This article offers 10 top tips for supporting students with SEND in the mainstream classroom.
  • The Bell Foundation provides guidance and resources to support EAL students with SEND.


Communication and Interaction needs

Children and young people who fall into this area could have disorders that affect their ability to interact with others. This includes Speech and Language communication needs, Aspergers, Autism and individuals with developmental delays.

  • Reports produced by Ambitious about Autism provide an insight into the impact of the pandemic and exclusions on autistic children and young people. The charity also provides guidance and resources that explain common behaviours displayed by students with autism, alongside practical strategies to support them.
  • The National Autistic Society provides a selection of articles and opinion pieces written by professionals and autistic people who share their knowledge, research and advice for anyone working with autistic people. 
  • NASEN provides a comprehensive guide to support girls with autism spectrum conditions (ASC).  
  • The Makaton Charity provides free resources for teaching staff to support students who use Makaton as their main method of communication. They also provide teacher reflections of using Makaton in the classroom. 
  • This Twinkl article explains how teaching assistants can best support students who have a stammer.
  • ICAN provides a comprehensive guide to support students with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).


Cognition and Learning needs

Children and young people who fall into this area could have moderate, severe or profound learning disabilities. Dyslexia and Dyspraxia also fall into this area.

  • Twinkl provides a range of articles that support teaching assistants working with students with Down’s Syndrome. They explore how best to support students’ social, emotional and physical wellbeing, support students academically and give an insight into real life experiences
  • The Down’s Syndrome Association provides specific guidance for teaching assistants working with students who have learning disabilities. 
  • The British Dyslexia Association provides a wealth of resources for supporting dyslexic students. 
  • The British Dyslexia Association also provides resources for supporting students with dyscalculia. 
  • The Helen Arknell Dyslexia Charity provides a wealth of videos and resources to support dyslexic students in a range of settings.
  • The Driver Youth Trust provides a range of teaching resources to support students with dyslexia and other literacy difficulties.
  • The Dyspraxia Foundation provides tips for PE teachers when it comes to supporting students with dyspraxia.


Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Difficulties

Children and young people requiring support in SEMH might have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, Attachment and Anxiety disorders, OCD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder or other behavioural disorders.

  • ACAMH host regular webinars to support professionals working with students with a range of SEMH needs. All events are centred around evidence-based research and hosted by leading experts in the field.
  • The Mentally Healthy Schools website brings together quality assured mental health information and advice for schools.
  • Headspace for Educators offers educators access to free mindfulness and meditation exercises and resources for every age group. 
  • Place2Be provides a range of support, guidance and resources  for teaching staff to improve children’s mental health in schools.
  • The Anna Freud National Association for Children and Families provides a wellbeing toolkit to support secondary teaching staff to improve students’ mental health and wellbeing.
  • The ADHD Foundation provides a wealth of articles and resources to support students with ADHD. 
  • This Twinkl article provides an insight into the various ways teaching assistants can support students with their mental health.
  • This article outlines the current context and provides practical advice and guidance to support students with SEMH difficulties.


Sensory or Physical Needs

This area includes children and young people with Hearing Impairments, Auditory Processing Disorder, Visual and Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI) Impairments and General Physical Disabilities including Hypermobility and other medical needs.

  • The National Deaf Children’s Society provides a wealth of phase-specific resources to support students with hearing impairments. 
  • This Twinkl article provides top tips for teaching assistants when supporting students with hearing impairments.
  • The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) have produced a series of podcasts with practical guidance to support children and young people with vision impairment. 
  • The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) provides free braille resources to support KS1 and KS2 students. 
  • Action Cerebral Palsy provides information and guidance for professionals working with students with cerebral palsy. 
  • This toolkit provides resources for teaching staff to support students with hypermobility.  
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