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EQ927-20 Special Educational Needs and Evidence-based Practices

Education Studies
Taught Postgraduate Level
Module leader
Olympia Palikara
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

The module examines current policy and practice around special educational needs along with research around the academic and behavioural profiles of children with different types of need (e.g., autism, intellectual disability). In parallel, the module focuses on evidenced based approaches: i.e., approaches to intervention that have been shown effective for improving children’s outcomes. We review evidence-based interventions, but we also learn and practise behavioural skills (e.g., what is reinforcement and when to use it) as these are core components of effective methods for addressing the needs of students, including students with special educational needs

Module aims

To develop students' awareness of disability and special educational needs; to increase students' knowledge of the characteristic profiles, including strengths and needs, of children with particular special educational needs such as learning disabilities (intellectual disabilities), autism spectrum disorders and specific learning difficulties.
To describe new policy developments regarding SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 years (DfE, DoH, 2014- Education, Health and Social Care); to provide an overview of the policy and practice of
inclusion, its underpinnings, and the research that examined its effectiveness.
To provide students with an increase awareness of evidence based approaches in educational practice; to critically examine the effectiveness of available methods and interventions in addressing the needs of students with special educational needs.
To consider the interplay between context and children's developmental outcomes (ie community-level factors such as deprivation and family-level factors such as the home environment); to examine evidence based approaches as applied in several contexts (classroom, school, home, community) to improve children's outcomes.
To gain increased knowledge of evidence-based practices derived from the science of applied behaviour analysis; to gain experience of using these to address learning and behavioural needs of children with special educational needs as stand-alone methods or as part of complex interventions.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Week 1: Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND): Current UK policy and practice What is behaviour?
Week 2: Inclusion: policy, practice and effectiveness Measuring Behaviour
Week 3: Academic outcomes of children with special educational needs Consequences- Reinforcement
Week 4: Intellectual Disabilities (Learning Disabilities) Consequences- Punishment
Week 5: Autism Spectrum Disorders Antecedent variables
Week 6: Specific Learning Difficulties Developing new behaviour (helping hierarchies)
Week 7: Language and Communication Decreasing behaviour
Week 8: Behaviour problems and Mental Health Functional analysis
Week 9: Early Years Measuring progress and evaluating change
Week 10: Evidence-based practice beyond the school environment (community, family) Building multi-component interventions

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Understand and critique current areas of theory and policy development in SEN and Disability.
  • Understand and critique current areas of policy and practice of inclusion.
  • Understand and describe the identification, assessment and profile of children with some of the most high frequency SEN types such as learning disabilities, autism, and specific learning difficulties.
  • Be knowledgeable about the UK and international developments on evidence-based practice in the field of SEN education.
  • Identify some of the most well-known and evidence-based approaches for addressing academic difficulties and behaviour problems in children.
  • Be knowledgeable of the key components of behaviour analytic approaches and how they can be used to improve children's outcomes.
  • Demonstrate effectively the ability to integrate intervention knowledge, critical evaluation of methodology, and knowledge of the unique needs of children with SEN when selecting evidence-based interventions to implement them and assess them.
Indicative reading list

Brooks, G. (2013). What works for children and young children with literacy difficulties? The effectiveness of intervention schemes. 4th Edition. The Dyslexia-SpLD Trust.
Cooper, J.0., Heron, T.E., & Heward, W.L. (20007). Applied Behavior Analysis. Second Edition, Columbus, Ohio: Pearson.
Frederickson, N., & Cline, T. (2015). Special Educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity. 3rd Ed. Berkshire: Open University Press.
D'Agostino, J.V. & Harmey, S.J. (2016). An international meta-analysis of Reading Recovery. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk. 21, 29-46.
De Couteur, A., & Szatmari, P. (2015) Autism Spectrum Disorder. In A. Thapar, D.S. Pine, J.F. Leckman, S. Scott, M.J. Snowling, & E. Taylor (Eds.), Rutter's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Sixth Edition (pp. 665- 682). Chistester: Wiley.
Green, H., McGinnity, A., Meltzer, H., Ford, T., & Goodman, R. (2005). Mental health of children
young people in Great Britain, 2004. London: Palgrave Macmillan. — Summary report
from htt ://www.content.di

ab-2004-rep2.pdf intervention for beginning readers with

of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47:8,
Hatcher et al. (2006). Efficacy of small group reading reading-delay: a randomised controlled trial. Journal 820-827.
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers. Maximizing Impact on Learning. Oxon: Routledge.
Lambert, N., & Frederickson, N. (2015). Inclusion for children with special educational needs: How can psychology help? In T., Cline, A., Gulliford, & S. Birch (Eds). Educational Psychology (2" ed.), Hove: Routlege.
Lindsay, G. (2007). Educational psychology and the effectiveness of inclusive education/mainstreaming. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(1), 1-24.
Reichow, B., Barton, E. E., Boyd, B. A., & Hume, K. (2012). Early intensive behavioral intervention for (EIBI) young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD009260.
Simonsen, B., Fairbanks, S., Briesch, A., Myers, D., & Sugai, G. (2008). Evidence-based practices in classroom management: Considerations for research to practice. Education and Treatment of Children, 31, 351-380.
Snowling. M. (2013). Dyslexia: A language learning impairment. Journal of the British Academy, 2, 43-58.
Strand, S. & Lindsay, G. (2009). Evidence of ethnic disproportionality in special education in an English population. Journal of Special Education, 43, 174-190.
Toms, G., Totsika, V., Hastings, R.H, Healy, H. (2015). Access to services by children with intellectual disability and mental health problems: Population-based evidence from the UK. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 40, 239-247.
Totsika, V., Hastings, R.P., Emerson, E., Berridge, D.M., & Lancaster, G. (2015). Prosocial skills in young children with autism, and their mothers' psychological well-being: longitudinal relationships. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 13-14, 25-
Totsika, V., Hastings, R.P., Vagenas, D., & Emerson, E. (2014). Parenting and the behaviour problems of young children with an intellectual disability: Concurrent and longitudinal relationships in a population-based study. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 119, 422-435.
Totsika, V., Hastings, R.P., Emerson, E., Berridge, D.M., Lancaster, G.A. (2011). Behavior problems at 5 years of age and maternal mental health in autism and intellectual disability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 1137-1147.
Totsika, V., Hastings, R.P., Emerson, E., Lancaster, G., & Berridge, D. (2011). A population-based investigation of behavioural and emotional problems and maternal mental health: Associations with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 52, 91-99.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills
  • apply multiple perspectives to special educational needs and disability issues, recognising that this area involves a range of research methods, theories, evidence and applications
  • integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in special educational needs and disabilities
  • constructively critique theories, practice and research in the area of special educational needs and disabilities
  • demonstrate knowledge and awareness of the skills needed for different pedagogical approaches
  • the formation and promotion of mutually respectful relationships with families, colleagues, other professionals and communities
  • lead, support and work collaboratively with others and demonstrate an understanding of working effectively in teams with parents, carers and other professionals
  • produce critical arguments for improvements to multi-agency and multi-professional practices for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities
  • reflect upon the ethics of studying children with special educational needs and disabilities
  • generate and explore hypotheses and research questions relating to special educational needs and disabilities
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the interrelationships between political, economic, cultural and ideological contexts in the lives of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities
Transferable skills


  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Common sense
  • Communication skills
  • Complex problem solving
  • Confidence
  • Coordinating with others
  • Critical thinking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Initiative and also follow instructions
  • Intellectual ability
  • International cultural awareness
  • Interpersonal and communication
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Leadership
  • Literacy
  • Management of learning
  • Motivation, tenacity, commitment
  • Personal development skills
  • Persuading/influencing
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Problem solving
  • Reasoning
  • Self-management/resilience
  • Stakeholder and organisational awareness
  • Team working
  • Using IT effectively

Study time

Type Required Optional
Lectures 10 sessions of 2 hours (10%)
Seminars 10 sessions of 1 hour (5%)
Tutorials (0%) 1 session of 15 minutes
Private study 170 hours (85%)
Total 200 hours
Private study description

Independent study hours include background reading, completing reading/other tasks in preparation for timetabled teaching sessions, undertaking research using the library resources, follow-up reading work, working on individual and group projects, the completion of formative and summative assignments, revision.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Essay 100% 70 hours

One 4,000-word assignment or equivalent

Feedback on assessment

Both formative and summative feedback is offered; formative through tutor comments on draft outline of assignment and summative through comments on formal Masters feedback sheet.


This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 1 of TIMA-L981 Postgraduate Social Science Research