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nasen – the National Association for Special Educational Needs (SEND) – has joined forces with assistive technology provider Microlink and the Department for Education (DfE) to lead a training pilot involving over 80 mainstream schools across the country.

Funded by the DfE, the Assistive Technology Training Pilot aims to grow and develop the use of assistive technology to support children and young people with SEND.

nasen, a charity that exists to support and champion those working with, and for, children and young people with SEND and learning differences, and Microlink will collaborate to run online training sessions to nominated Assistive Technology Champions from each school between 31st January and 7th March 2022.

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Children’s Minister Will Quince announced the pilot at a recent National Network of Parent Carer Forums event sharing the importance of reducing and removing barriers to learning for children with SEND by training teachers and school staff to use assistive technology by increasing confidence and capability.

nasen CEO Annamarie Hassall MBE said: “Assistive Technology has an increasingly important role to play in education. Through the pandemic, its importance has accelerated with children and young people learning both in school and remotely. We know that using assistive technology can be life-changing and empowering for a learner with SEND or learning differences.

“Despite this, the growth in Assistive Technology has brought numerous challenges for educators and families alike. nasen is thrilled to be supporting this training pilot with the Department for Education and Microlink to help ensure children and young people with SEND receive every support possible to ensure that they can learn and thrive alongside their peers in mainstream education.

“We must continue striving towards ensuring equity of provision in the classroom and through remote learning.”

The training pilot will explore how assistive technology can remove barriers and support teachers to ensure all children with SEND have the opportunity to succeed to the best of their ability. The training will share knowledge and best practice, enabling the champions to put their learning into practice and lead a whole-school approach.

Dr Nasser Siabi OBE, CEO of Microlink, added: “I am delighted that Microlink is working closely with a charity of nasen’s significance on the DfE’s Assistive Technology Training Pilot.

“Microlink has been a leading provider of Assistive Technology for Higher Education and Business for nearly 30 years, and we have a whole-hearted belief in its potential to revolutionise our classrooms. Assistive Technology can bring the confidence of a level playing field for all students, improve the support we offer to those most in need of help and improve the lives and productivity of our teachers.”

A launch event will take place on 27th January, attended by the senior leaders and Assistive Technology Champions from the 24 participating secondary schools and 57 primary schools meeting with nasen and Microlink to help embed the forthcoming learning across the whole school.

Upon completion in March 2022, the effectiveness of the training pilot will be independently evaluated by CooperGibson Research, with the results announced later in the year.

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