Interactive inclusion


Sarah Sumner is enthusiastic about the benefits of interactive resources for supporting learners with SEND in primary education.

As a headteacher of a primary school with a much higher than average proportion of pupils with SEND and learning differences, I know just how rewarding it is to help these learners thrive and achieve. I also know that this comes with challenges. At the time of writing, one in three of our pupils have English as an additional language (EAL), more than one in four fall under the SEND category, and one in eight have education, health, and care plans (EHCP). Supporting these pupils in the way that they deserve comes with many hurdles—budget restraints, time restraints, and specialist staffing levels to name a few—but over my time at Westlea, there is one thing, among others, that has consistently helped us support all learners and promote inclusivity—interactive resources. Working with children and young people with additional needs is a privilege, but let’s not beat about the bush, it can be hard and sometimes frustrating. I find the secret is to do less, but do it really well. Focusing on the diverse needs of each child and looking at elements such as how purposeful adaptations can and need to be, can make a huge difference. Interactive resources can play a big part here.

Interactive resources are specifically designed to encourage participation, collaboration and hands-on interaction for all learners, which in turn builds an effective and inclusive learning environment and can support teaching and learning across core subjects such as literacy, maths, science, history and geography. Some resources fall under the adaptive technology umbrella, catering to the diverse needs and learning styles of pupils by adapting and adjusting to their abilities and preferences—these are the resources I have found most useful. By incorporating these alongside assistive technology, we have found pupils to be more empowered and independent, and it has helped to break down some barriers to learning.

Implementing interactive interactives—three quick questions
The key to using interactive resources effectively is to establish which ones will be most helpful when supporting your learners’ needs. Before writing this, I asked all the teaching staff at Westlea to suggest their favourite adaptive teaching resources. The list I got back was so extensive. From talking calculators and immersive readers to online games and audio stories, they showed me just how many resources are being used and the vast range of things they can assist with. However, too much choice can make life more difficult, so when deciding which interactive resources to use, ask yourself some questions.

What are the specific learning needs of my pupils?
Tailor your selection based on the individual requirements of your learners. Identify the areas where they may need additional support or engagement, whether it’s in literacy, numeracy, communication, or social skills. For example, if your SEND learner needs additional support when it comes to concentrating or engaging with the content, consider interactive resources that make their lives easier in the classroom. This could be a tool that allows them to gamify their learning, or a resource that breaks learning up into smaller, more digestible chunks.

How well does the resource align with the curriculum and learning objectives?
Ensure that the interactive resources complement your existing curriculum and align with the learning objectives you’ve set for your pupils. The goal is to enhance, not replace, the educational framework in place, and there is no point in implementing (and paying for) resources that won’t be used because they don’t match up with the national curriculum. Choose resources that don’t distract from the learning. Some interactive resources can have all the bells and whistles and look flashy and fun, but the content is not fit for purpose. Really think about what you want the pupils to achieve when choosing which resources to implement.

Is the resource user-friendly for both educators and pupils?
Consider the ease of integration into your teaching methods. Opt for resources that are not only beneficial for the pupils but also user-friendly for teachers. A resource that is intuitive and seamlessly fits into your lesson plans and teaching style is more likely to be utilised effectively. It’s valuable to adopt a whole-school perspective to identify what would be beneficial for learners. Often, resources that help learners with SEND can also benefit others.

Sarah Sumner
Author: Sarah Sumner

Sarah Sumner
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Sarah Sumner is Headteacher at Westlea Primary School, an award-winning primary school based in Swindon, and part of the Brunel Academies Trust.

More info on Pearson's Primary Interactive Library at


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