Special educational needs

  • Successfully teaches children with severe cognitive difficulties
  • Outstanding results for children with SLCN
  • Appropriate for children with a wide range of neurological disorders
  • Enables children to understand ‘how reading works’

BRI (Beginning Reading Instruction) is a gentle, lively introduction to early reading instruction. Its structure is very simple, with straightforward directions allowing specialist tutors and SENCOs to teach the majority of pupils to read, including those with significant instructional challenges. BRI begins with just three words and five sounds. The programme provides essential ‘know-how’ for struggling readers. Following the three BRI sets, and the first two ARI (Advanced Reading Instruction) sets, many children can progress to independent reading.

BRI raises awareness of the individual components of a basic story: ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘what’, encouraging children to engage with the stories, as well as identifying with the gentle foibles and humour of Sam the Lion, Mat the Rat and friends. Children who are easily confused by the complexities and the meaning of written language find it immensely reassuring to understand how to ‘really read’ a ‘proper book’ within a few minutes of starting ‘I See Sam’. For the adult, this book can seem slight; to the child it is thrilling.

BRI-ARI is particularly suitable for supervision by TAs, with brief instructions in the ‘Getting Started with BRI’ Guide sufficient to help beginner readers (see Buy BRI books). Simple and consistent instructions are also incorporated in each book. Easy-to-use Performance Indicators are quick to administer and should be used to establish the best starting place for each child (See Free resources).

Special needs teachers and TAs should note the following to ensure that every individual child is progressing:

1. Does the child remember code?
2. Does s/he use learned code to sound out unknown words?
3. Is each child slowly progressing to fluency, that is sounding out fewer and fewer words? Children should be almost fluent at the end of each set.
4. Does every child automatically use the protocol (Sound, sound, say the word) when encountering a word s/he cannot read?
5. Are all faulty and distracting reading strategies eliminated:
a. guessing
b. cueing from the first letter
c. reversal of words due to erratic left-to-right directionality, i.e. saying ‘saw’ for ‘was’
d. inattention to the decoding process, i.e. saying ‘this’ for ‘that’?

Points 1-5: Use the Notched Card ‘Slider’ (See Free resources) and insist on the ‘sounding out’ protocol.

No child should be encouraged to go ‘steaming’ ahead using faulty strategies. Once embedded, it is far harder to rectify these.

Simple story questions accompany each BRI book, providing a springboard for discussion and helping teachers to assess comprehension.

SPELLING Workbooks augment the BRI books. It is recommended that spelling should take place after book reading so that no unintended memorisation of words occurs.

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (See Free resources) are a useful ‘before’ and ‘after’ indication of progress, providing a very clear record of improvement.

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” [My daughter’s] profile, with scores ranging from 36-87 (with 85-115 being normal for her age) shows that she has a cognitive impairment as well as some significant learning disabilities. Thanks to BRI, her reading and spelling skills tested 20-30 points above her average IQ level.
They were at first going to put her in the classroom which the severely mentally impaired kids attend – these are kids that are mostly non or very limited verbally, non readers, very basic functional skills, etc. Now they said she is the top reader in her special education room.”Extract from Case Studies, Ottakee’s Children

Reading support for children with special educational needs

SEN literacy
“My very difficult Y9 boy has started storming through the ARI books. He came to me today demanding to ‘read’!” HL Teaching Assistant
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