The past year has been tough for the special needs software industry due to the discontinuation of the Communication Aids Project and other schemes. However, at this year’s Special Needs London exhibition and conference, organized by the Sen body, Nasen, many companies are making efforts to capture a share of the mainstream market while still catering to children with disabilities or sensory needs. 


This year’s products reflect the government’s emphasis on literacy. Skill Builders from Sherston can help pupils with pre-reading skills like sorting. The CD-ROM and an accompanying workbook come with speech support. Besides, pupils can access the materials with a mouse or a switch and increase the cursor’s size. 


Semerc is promoting Think About to improve memory and concentration among key stage 2 students. The CD-ROM and workbook provide good stories, differentiated text, and clipart to help students develop their listening and comprehension skills. Heather Whibley from the Lichfield Specific Learning Difficulties Centre says the "On-screen reader option means that children with weaker reading skills can happily work alongside children who may not need to access this option." 


Textease Studio CT from Softease has developed a Community@Home license. This allows pupils and teachers to use the same software at home as at school. According to Angela Thompson, ICT coordinator at Penclawdd primary school, Textease Studio is extremely child-friendly. 


Trackers from Clicker and Oxford University Press come with a level 7 program complementing the six levels from Elephant to Zebra Track. This software will help students develop word recognition, phonetics, and sytactical skills, and it’ll be especially beneficial for those learning English as a second language. Other software like Talk-2-Talk from Resource can also support various languages. It can be set up, so any spoken languages will be heard and seen in English, followed by the equivalent phrase or sentence in another language. 


Older students who don’t enjoy storybooks may benefit from the Start-to-Finish Core Content non-fiction resources from Don Johnston. Widgit is also focusing on non-fiction resources. They have new science packs that cover vocabulary and basic concepts from the QCA plan. 


Many companies are interested in software that can help students with dyslexia. Text readers like ClaroRead is often used by learners with restricted vision. It gives access to information and ideas for students and has increased Olivia Fraser’s independence. She no longer relies on her mother for support. Jumbo XL from Inclusive Technology is another great software where vowel keys are a different color from consonants, emphasizing every syllable has to contain a vowel. 


Lastly, Inclusive Technology is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching SwitchIt! Bob the Builder. This program is designed specifically for children with severe disabilities. The proceeds are going to the Manchester Children’s Hospital Appeal.

Discover a range of innovative companies at the ICT Expo. Visit the Clicker stand at ICT 22 for exciting tech solutions. Explore the Don Johnston stand at ICT 33 to discover cutting-edge products. Head to Inclusive Technology at ICT 15 for inclusive and accessible technology designed for all. For a comprehensive resource center, check out Resource at ICT 2. SEMERC at ICT 71 offers technology specifically for those with special educational needs. Visit Sherston at ICT 25 for engaging educational software and interactive resources. Softease at ICT 20 offers a variety of software solutions for education and beyond. Finally, don’t miss Widgit at ICT 53 for symbol-based communication solutions.

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Lisa Jardine isn’t one to beat around the bush. As soon as she sits down on the couch in her Bloomsbury apartment, she openly states, "I had breast cancer and was out for most of last year." She doesn’t ask for sympathy or gradually ease into the topic; she’s upfront and honest from the start.

But Jardine’s straightforwardness doesn’t mean she’s easy to read. While her cancer treatment gave her time to reflect on her priorities, it’s hard to see any major changes in her work life – she continued teaching and researching, thanks to support from Queen Mary, where she serves as Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies and Director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. What did change was her ability to say "no" to unwanted obligations.

Jardine’s accomplishments go far beyond her official titles. She speaks multiple languages, including French, Italian, Dutch, Modern and Ancient Greek, Latin, and some Hebrew. She’s received the Royal Society medal for making science accessible to the public, and sits on the governing body of the Royal Institution. But even with four times the credits of most academics, Jardine’s "disappointment" is palpable. She doesn’t feel she’s done enough and wants to produce a "research book" that has the same impact as Simon Schama’s Embarrassment of Riches or Jung Chang’s Wild Swans.

Her next book, on Anglo-Dutch relations, is due out in four years and will explore her passions, including ideas of nationhood and the interconnectedness of history. At the same time, she’s collaborating on a book with Tony Grafton, a Princeton historian, about 16th-century marginalia. Her colleagues call her a "force of nature" with boundless intellectual curiosity, but there’s more to her drive than meets the eye. Her father, Jacob Bronowski – a renowned mathematician and scientist – had a profound impact on her, and Jardine admits to idolizing him during her childhood.

Jardine was recognized as a math prodigy at just five years old and received a scholarship to Cheltenham Ladies’ College. She was one of only nine women in a class of 180 studying math at Cambridge. By the end of her second year, she felt burnt out and had come to hate the subject she once loved. Her father’s expectations may have factored into this feeling of failure.

In short, Jardine is a complex figure with a straightforward approach. Her battle with cancer may not have radically changed her work, but it did refocus her priorities and sharpen her ability to say "no." Her next book on Anglo-Dutch relations is eagerly awaited, as are her future accomplishments.

When Lisa Anne Jardine was deciding on her university course, she considered studying philosophy or history. However, Cambridge University did not allow radicalism in these subjects at the time. Instead, she chose English and graduated a year later. Even though Jardine did not have a strong interest in English literature, she pursued her PhD on the scientific methods of Sir Francis Bacon. Being a well-rounded polymath and media personality, Jardine faced challenges in her earlier years of being perceived as unfocused and uncommitted. However, her persistent hard work paid off, and she became an "academic superstar." Jardine’s career reflects both her father’s and husband’s influences, and she has been a cultural commentator for two decades. As an accomplished academic, Jardine is often invited to judge prestigious book prizes, including being chairman of the Booker jury in 2002. While some see Jardine as frivolous, she takes pride in being recognized as a serious player in her field. Jardine is the Centenary professor of renaissance studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and has been awarded a CBE in recognition of her commitment to education. Despite her many achievements, Jardine’s greatest accomplishment is raising her three children.

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It has been ten years since the publication of Sue Ziebland and Catherine Pope’s groundbreaking study, "The Utilization of Colons in Titles of British Medical Sociology Conference Papers, from 1970 to 1993". At the time, Ziebland was working in the Department of Public Health Medicine at London’s Camden and Islington Health Authority, but has since joined the University of Oxford. Pope, who conducted her research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, now works at the University of Bristol, after having traveled a different academic path.

Together, Ziebland and Pope set out to investigate the application of colons in titles of several papers in the field of British research. Their work was featured in the Annals of Improbable Research, and it helped bring to light a predicament that had been troubling social scientists: how to create compelling titles for conference papers while also relaying the actual subject of the research. They described it as follows: "Unless a presenter is of an exceptionally reserved persona, there is most likely a desire to construct an enticing and attention-grabbing title. Eventually, however, the crux of the research will need to be addressed, and it is in one’s best interest to incorporate some reference to the actual substance of the research."

Ziebland and Pope analyzed data from a specific yearly conference to study the trends in the use of colons in paper titles. They reviewed every research paper that was listed in the printed programs from the conference’s inaugural year of 1969 to the 1993 gathering.

To determine their findings, they established calculations based on the proportion of the total number of papers each year that included one or more colons in their titles. Every paper was counted only once, even a paper from 1979 that had five colons in its title.

Their conclusions were that during the 1970s and 1980s, paper titles with colon usage showed a steady increase. From the mid-1980s, the percentage of paper titles that relied on colons remained consistent between 40% and 48%. In 1985, an exceptional and unexplained 57% of titles comprised colons use.

The colon has stimulated academic discussions for centuries. Scholar JT Dillon from the University of California explored the academic colon in depth a decade before the research by Ziebland and Pope. These studies were highly insightful and captivating at that time, but now they are considered as artifacts of history.

Marc Abrahams, organizer of the Ig Nobel Prize and editor of the bi-monthly periodical Annals of Improbable Research, provides this commentary.

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The University’s fees for domestic students is set at £9,250 while the fees for international students vary between £17,600 to £39,200 per annum.

To assist students in meeting the expenses associated with their studies, an assortment of bursaries and scholarships are provided such as those evaluated on the basis of financial need, academic achievement, and criteria linked to grades. Additionally, there are special bursaries for students with caring responsibilities or those who have been in care. For a full list of bursaries that are available, as well as any pertinent updates, please visit

The University of Sheffield ensures that students who have made them their first choice through Ucas, or those who opt to join the University through clearing or adjustment before the deadline, will receive guaranteed accommodation.

Rental options range from £80.22 per week (£3369.24), for a self-catered room with a communal bathroom on a 42-week contract. The most costly accommodation available is £234.85 per week (£11,977.35), which comprises a self-catered studio on a 51-week contract.

All of the accommodation is owned by the University and is guaranteed to be of high quality.

To contact the University, you may do so through various convenient channels, including calling +44 (0)1142 222000, emailing, or visiting their website at Specific questions concerning accommodation may be directed to

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People who are easily anxious may want to divert their eyes as there have been new developments in the field of dentistry. Dentists are now able to learn how to replace missing teeth through correspondence courses. Professionals like doctors, veterinarians, and dentists all over the world are now gaining qualifications through distance learning programs from universities in Britain.

Some of the distance-learning courses being offered by the universities of London and Edinburgh are teaching different kinds of skills such as the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases as well as administering anaesthetics. The University of Edinburgh is also set to offer surgical sciences to doctors who will be able to practice on online three-dimensional virtual patients starting next year. According to Jake Broadhurst, e-learning business development manager at Edinburgh, students can kill their virtual patients over and over again, sometimes doing it intentionally just to ensure that they arrive at the correct diagnosis.

The growing number of distance courses may raise questions but it has enabled professionals living in areas where career development may be difficult to pursue further education. Studying at home has become a more affordable and convenient option compared to moving to the UK to study for an extended period.

Universities, however, clarify that they are not teaching professions from scratch. Instead, they are offering specializations for qualified professionals.

Distance learning has drastically changed since the University of London established its first correspondence course in 1858. Students used to receive rock samples and 100-piece chemistry sets complete with Bunsen burners and microscopes through post. The Open University’s biology department even mailed Siamese fighting fish to students for dissection. Nowadays, students are more likely to receive a DVD containing virtual microscopes and test tubes.

Advancements in technology made it possible for medical subjects to be studied through distance learning. Veterinary students can now discuss cases by sharing test results, scans, and ideas through web-based discussion boards. Tutorial groups can discuss issues face-to-face through webcams. Geology, dentistry, and medical students can also analyze computer-generated images taken by cameras dropped into volcanoes, mouths, and blood vessels. However, technological aids may not be necessary for every practical course. Some of these courses focus on theoretical concepts such as statistical methods for tracking outbreaks of animal diseases or learning the economics of running a livestock farm in Africa.

Other courses are more well-suited to distance learning. Dentists who are learning medical imaging techniques can easily replicate digital scans using computers.

The universities agree that technology has its limitations. Software cannot teach doctors how to perform brain surgery. Additionally, most courses require students to attend yearly intensive residential practical sessions in the UK or a dedicated college elsewhere.

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George Walker, a friend and colleague of mine, passed away at the age of 80, leaving an indelible impact on the education industry in the UK and worldwide. He authored several noteworthy books that focused on education, including Educating the Global Citizen (2006), To Educate the Nations (2004), and An A-Z of School Leadership (2007).

Born in Watford, Hertfordshire, George was the son of William, an RAF serviceman, who later became the headteacher of a primary school, and Celia (nee Dean), a French language teacher. While studying at Watford grammar school for boys, he showcased his remarkable piano skills. After completing his chemistry studies at Exeter College, Oxford, he spent a year under the tutelage of the renowned pianist Lamar Crowson at the University of Cape Town.

Although George initially wanted to become a chemistry teacher, he taught at his former school before becoming a lecturer in education at the University of York. Through the guidance of Professor Harry Rée, he partook in numerous science education initiatives at national level. George was an advocate of comprehensive education. He held the positions of deputy headmaster of Carisbrooke High School on the Isle of Wight and headmaster at Heathcote School in Stevenage and Cavendish School in Hemel Hempstead.

In 1991, George became the director general of the International School of Geneva, where he was responsible for three campuses. He dutifully oversaw a period of expansion and development and performed exceptionally well, earning respect through his integrity, poise, competence, and modesty. Despite claiming to be less than fluent in French, George chaired all meetings once he took office. He was also an accomplished pianist who performed regularly.

George moved on to become the director general of the International Baccalaureate eight years later, holding that position for several years. Despite the rapid growth of the program, George stayed true to its initial idealistic goals. He loved living in Geneva because of its ski slopes and beautiful mountains, and he even attempted to climb Mont Blanc.

After retiring to Suffolk, George continued his work in education by writing several well-received books, such as Challenges From a New World (2010) and Glimpses of Utopia (2013), a collection of autobiographical vignettes. The University of Bath awarded him an honorary doctorate in education, and he held the position of visiting professor for the same university. He was also appointed OBE in 1992. He is survived by his beloved wife, Jenny (nee Hill), their children, Catherine and Simon, and their grandchildren, Robert, Claire, Thomas, and Daniel.

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Marriage is facing many challenges in current times. The government believes that the quality of the relationship between mothers and fathers is what truly matters for happy families, regardless of whether they are married or not. This viewpoint has caused dissent among church leaders who want the government to promote marriage as the best choice. The 30th anniversary of the Divorce Reform Act also occurs this month.

The Divorce Reform Act brought a significant change by recognizing that marriages can reach a point of "irretrievable breakdown," removing the blame from ending a marriage. However, Britain’s divorce rates are the highest in the European Union, with almost one in three marriages crumbling. Some blame the decline of the traditional family on the stigma of divorce having diminished due to the Act. The government is looking for solutions to these problems, which affect personal lives.

It’s vital to understand the past to appreciate the current scenario. The Church previously controlled marriage through its ecclesiastical courts until 300 years ago, making it challenging to divorce, except for Henry VIII. In 1857, the Matrimonial Causes Act allowed women to divorce on the same grounds of adultery as men for the first time. In 1937, the "matrimonial offenses" Act gave provisions for divorce on certain grounds. However, it still did not address marriages that failed without an offense, a problem faced during World War II.

In 1971, the Divorce Reform Act allowed people to leave loveless, unhappy marriages. It still outlines the basis for Britain’s divorce law, although variations exist in Scotland. The law has since become more straightforward, with the introduction of the "quickie divorce." Cohabiting, unmarried couples are increasingly having children these days, raising concerns about the effect of divorce on the child’s mental health and their relationship skills.

The government is mulling over imposing mandatory mediation before couples dissolve their marriage, suggesting that it is promoting good relationships of all kinds. Still, indications suggest that the government actively advocates marriage. It’s a part of the national curriculum and provides free advice in Married Life books to couples intending to marry. The effects of these measures remain unknown.

Fun facts: The average cost of a white wedding is £13,723. Four in ten marriages end in divorce; in London, it’s 50%. Over 22% of children live with only their mothers, a threefold increase from 1971. Four in ten divorce filings cite unreasonable behavior, and 30% are based on adultery. In 1997, there were 310,000 marriages in Britain, which was the lowest recorded figure in the century.

Curriculum links: PSHE (relationship and lifestyle, marriage and parenting, impact of divorce); Citizenship (rights and responsibilities, topical political, and moral issues); English En1 (reading and writing); En2 (historical context); En3 (writing). RE courses also cover marriage and divorce as a key topic.

The Guardian has several articles on the topic:,4273,3954785,00.html,,4273,3954944,00.html,,4273,3978829,00.html,,4273,4036060,00.html,,4273,4038548,00.html.

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During an inquest, it was revealed that a college student named Kostydin Yankov lost his life in a strange incident where he was launched over 30 meters in the air by a human catapult. While part of the Oxford Stunt Factory, Yankov, a 19-year-old biochemistry student from Bulgaria, sustained multiple injuries after missing a safety net when propelled from a trebuchet catapult styled after a medieval weapon. In November 2002, the stunt club visited the Middlemoor Water Park near Bridgwater, Somerset, where the incident occurred.

Five members of the Oxford Stunt Factory paid the £40 per launch cost to use the trebuchet that Wad used to fire plague-ridden corpses and various missiles over castle ramparts. The two catapult designers, Richard Wicks, and David Aitkenhead created a modern version of the Trebuchet with human shots instead of missiles. They had already tested the contraption alongside their human resource manager, Stella Young, who sustained injuries in 2000 when testing a prototype of the trebuchet.

Stella Young was responsible for weighing Yankov before the jump and warning him about the dangers of using the trebuchet. She told the court how she had broken her pelvis in three places after using a prototype of the trebuchet that same year. The Oxford Stunt Factory had already voiced their concerns regarding the safety of the trebuchet. Oliver Nelkin, who was scheduled for a jump after Yankov, commented that jumpers were landing on the front edge of the safety net 10m x 20m instead of the middle, which was the intended landing area.

Prior to Yankov’s jump, the weights that control the jump’s length were adjusted on the trebuchet, and all safety checks were done. Yankov missed the safety net for reasons the jury could not determine, and he died from his injuries at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital. The adventure designers, Wicks and Aitkenhead in charge of the trebuchet were acquitted of manslaughter charges in 2020.

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The issue of teacher shortages has been an ongoing concern in recent years, with differing views between government officials and education professionals. The government has dismissed the warning of an impending crisis, claiming that teacher numbers have remained the same. However, headteachers and other professional organisations have expressed growing apprehension about the impact of shortages on the quality of education provided to children.

The warnings about teacher shortages have been around for over two decades, with the 2008 recession providing temporary respite by attracting more graduates to teaching, lured by job stability. With an improvement in the job market, teachers have sought better opportunities. However, Prof John Howson from Oxford University, who has studied the teacher jobs market for over two decades, believes that the government’s optimistic stance is concealing some uncomfortable truths. He suggests that there are chronic shortages in some regions and subjects that may be hidden by a surplus of applicants elsewhere.

According to Howson, the most significant issues are faced by secondary schools where heads are forced to employ teachers before the teacher census data is compiled in November. This could lead to the recruitment of unqualified or non-specialist teachers, which raises questions about the quality of education provided. This becomes a challenge as the number of pupils is expected to increase by 800,000 in the next ten years.

Recruitment for subjects such as geography, maths, physics, and RE is falling short of government targets, and there is a low influx of teachers to meet future demand and compensate for the number of those leaving. This creates a muddled policy landscape, which Howson claims is "a mess."

It has been suggested that the decision taken by former education secretary Michael Gove to relinquish central government responsibility for teacher supply in 2011 was flawed. Prof Chris Husbands explains that the government’s lack of a clear idea about how many teachers are needed has resulted in the assumption that schools can predict their supply needs, which is incorrect. This has allegedly resulted in a diversification of teacher training routes, with a strong preference for school-based courses such as School Direct. However, there is little central direction regarding where the training places are needed.

With a last-minute expansion in the allocation of history places, it is apparent that universities with surplus places could be negatively impacted by the cuts. Other universities have made legally binding offers of places in PE before the numbers were capped, resulting in over-recruitment and a possibility of penalties.

Many education professionals feel that the process has become shambolic and that the financial ruin this could cause inevitably means that higher education institutions would think long and hard about whether to continue offering teacher training.

According to Weighill, a balance between school- and university-based teacher education with unified inspection is needed. Schools need authentic experiences paired with academic learning, as well as the quality guarantee universities bring. Some kind of local middle tier is necessary to guarantee the supply and quality of well-trained teachers. Husbands agrees, suggesting school-university partnerships could lead to more diverse supply models and regional coordination. However, this reform requires admitting the faulty implementation of teacher training reforms.

Stephen Tierney, Executive Director of the Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi-Academy Trust, believes generating recruitment alone will not solve the problem, and retention must be targeted. He is not sure there is a crisis yet, but mentions that anecdotal evidence is showing a larger problem associated with noise. Cultural changes are necessary to correct the problems initially caused by the profession being done to teachers instead of them being included in the decision-making process. A “massive change” in management is not the answer, but addressing cultural issues is required. Things are especially challenging in math, physics, and modern languages. The load on disadvantaged area heads increases with Ofsted breathing down their necks while teaching schools in affluent areas find it easier to maintain quality candidates for themselves, promoting inequality.

As evidence of the government taking action, the first Department for Education-funded recruitment advertising campaign in five years is launching. According to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the government must increase teacher pay to avoid a national crisis. The NAHT encourages the government to conduct pay scale reviews comparable to other professions to encourage recruitment and retention.

“We are working hard to address challenges that school leaders face, including deploying more teachers to neglected areas, offering new bursaries and scholarships, and expanding programs such as Teach First and School Direct,” stated the DfE spokesperson. Although the number of teachers returning to the classroom is increasing, the private sphere is becoming more lucrative, making teacher pay relatively lower. Thus, the government must invest in monetary support for teachers to halt the downward trend of teaching quality.

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Keith Neal, my dear friend, passed away at the age of 84 after dedicating 23 years of his life to teaching biology at Manchester Grammar School (MGS). Under his leadership, the subject transformed from an elite esoteric A-level course to one of the most sought-after subjects at GCSE level.

Keith was an ardent environmentalist who inspired his students with his extensive knowledge and exciting field trips. He also had a passion for internationalism, which was evident when he took his students on trips to India in 1988 and 1993 and to China in the late 1990s.

His love of Africa saw him travel there 26 times, with 15 visits to Sierra Leone between 2002 and 2012 to deliver courses on the moral foundations of democracy following the brutal civil war. Keith was also an ambassador for SolarAid, and in 2018, he visited Kenya to promote solar lamps that replaced polluting kerosene lanterns.

Keith also established a link between MGS and Busoga College in Uganda, where he supported the Busoga Trust by donating money for wells and textbooks. He visited Busoga three times between 1992 and 1999, and Mancunians donated 86 computers to the college.

Born in Cirencester to Ernest Neal, a world authority on badgers, and Betty Thomson, a science graduate, Keith moved with his family to Somerset at the age of eight, where his father taught biology at Taunton School, which was also Keith’s high school. He was an enthusiastic cross-country runner and enjoyed summer scout camps.

Keith’s parents’ scientific and Christian influence had a significant impact on his life, and he remained an active member of his church, serving as a church warden and maintaining a daily practice of prayer, quiet reflection, and Bible reading. He and I were both involved with the global Initiatives of Change interfaith movement.

Keith studied natural sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he met Ruth Candy. They married in 1965, and Keith went on to teach biology at Harrow County School for 15 years before joining MGS in 1976 until his retirement in 1999.

Following his retirement, Keith was committed to saving wildlife and the environment, which saw him begin clearing litter from the streets near his home in Altrincham. After the Covid lockdown in 2020, he made the clearing his daily routine, covering a three-mile circuit of rural lanes around Wythenshawe and near Manchester airport. His goal was to have completed 1,000 circuits, amounting to 3,000 miles, before his 85th birthday. In 2022, he collected 1,400kg of litter, filling 284 large bin bags and reducing rubbish in the area by an estimated 25%. Keith even counted the number of cigarette butts, with the total for 2022 being 11,250.

Keith is survived by his wife Ruth, their three children Peter, Margaret, and Rob, four grandchildren, and his two younger brothers, David and Andrew.

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