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’

Developed by an R&D team including linguists and educational psychologists, BRI’s mischievous animal characters offer the gentlest of introductions to the Basic Alphabetic Code; the first stories contain only three words and five sounds. 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.

The sixty-eight little tales in the three BRI Levels establish the firm phonics foundations that lead to lifelong literacy. (The Booster Books offer twenty extra stories for additional practice if necessary.) The three ARI (Advanced Reading Instruction) Levels gradually increase in Alphabetic Code and grammatical complexity until the ‘know-how’ of reading is firmly established.’

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 story can seem slight; to the child it is thrilling.

BRI-ARI is particularly suitable for supervision by TAs and volunteers, given the brief, straightforward nature of its instructions (see the ‘Getting Started with BRI guide).

Simple and consistent instructions are also incorporated into 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 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.

Optional Questions accompany each story, to stimulate the development of speech, language and comprehension.

A Spelling with BRI guide augments all three Levels.

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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 - Parent

Reading support for children with special educational needs

SEN literacy
“My daughter’s brain has been retrained by BRI.” Parent
“I’ve just started working with a pupil with global learning difficulties… I know that if anything will work, BRI will.”Specialist Reading Tutor
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