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Support for children with SEND

Guidance for supporting children with SEND to make progress with primary science

Resources included on this page

1. Inclusive approaches for Primary Science: a guidance booklet produced by Sheffield Hallam University following their curriculum development project, Primary Science for All.

2. STRATA (Science to Raise and Track Acheivement) materials: medium term plans for teachers of children with SEND, developed by teachers in Cambridgeshire.

3. Sensory Sparks Club resources: activities for children with diverse needs, created by PSTT Fellow and SEND expert Julie Neil.

4. Further resources: links to other materials to support engagement and participation of children with SEND in science.

PSTT works closely with The Lightyear Foundation who improve access for children with SEND to STEM activities and careers.

Inclusive Approaches

Inclusive Approaches for Primary Science began as a two year curriculum development project, Primary Science for All, led by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by the Primary Science Teaching Trust. The project included a group of participant teachers and teaching assistants from a mixture of primary school settings including special schools, pupil referral units attached to mainstream schools, and mainstream schools. All had a commitment to improving the inclusivity of primary science so that lessons would be accessible to all learners.

Two key inclusive approaches were developed by the Primary Science for All project: Wonder Cupboards and Frames.

To learn more about Wonder Cupboards and Frames, download our Inclusive Approaches for Primary Science resource. This resource also includes:

  • Background to the resource
  • Examples of how to use each key approach
  • How to combine the two inclusive approaches
  • Stories from educators about their experience with each key approach


Inclusive Approaches for Primary Science

This resource introduces two key approaches, and outlines how teachers and teaching assistants can incorporate them into their science curricula for children with diverse needs.



One of my children actually turned around and said, ‘Well, I know what to do next.’ So it’s helping him to be a bit more self-directed and helping him to feel a bit more in control.”


Medium Term Plans were developed by Cambridgeshire teachers, involved in the STRATA project (Science To Raise And Track Achievement), to support the work of teachers of children with Special Educational Needs in Science. The units can be used in any order. Even though the activities may focus on a particular level of child, the principles of good teaching and learning that they exemplify are transferable to all children. The content of these plans is ©PSTT 2019 but may be freely reproduced by teachers in schools for educational purposes.

To support children with diverse needs in science, please visit our STRATA page for plans covering:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Additional support from the original STRATA project

Sensory Sparks (SEN)

The Sensory Sparks club, created by PSTT College Fellow and SEN specialist teacher Julie Neil, provides activities aimed specifically towards children with diverse needs.


Sensory Sparks Overview



Stretchy socks

SEN focus: simple observation skills, ordering size, introduction to measure, making predictions comparative testing



Sound skittles

SEN focus: gross moto skills, anticipation, responding to sound and movement



'Pop' goes the rocket to the Moon!

SEN focus: sequencing, following instructions, anticipation, responding to sound and movement



Nature's perfume

SEN focus: sensory exploration of small, showing pleasure/displeasure from a range of herbs



It's all curtains to me!

SEN focus: exploration of materials, learning to sequence and sort



Chocolate bridge

SEN focus: observation skills, comparative testing



Catch the Worms

SEN focus: fine motor skills development, cause and effect, observing results



Booming Balloons

SEN focus: gross motor sills, anticipation, responding to sound and movement


Further Resources to Support Inclusion


For children needing emotional and behavioural support see PSTT's resource, 'Science In My Pocket'. This invaluable addition to a Teaching Assistant’s toolkit supports children to become better at self-regulating their behaviour, enabling them to return to a whole class setting more ready to learn and participate. Children’s social skills improve as the resource provides a context for the child to communicate positively with their peers. Science In My Pocket also increases the confidence of teaching assistants to engage children in scientific discussion.

Safety Notice and Disclaimer

PSTT advises teachers to refer to either the CLEAPSS website or SSERC website for up to date health and safety information when planning practical activities for children.

PSTT is not liable for the actions or activities of any reader or anyone else who uses the information in these resource pages or the associated classroom materials. PSTT assumes no liability with regard to injuries or damage to property that may occur as a result of using the information contained in these resources. PSTT recommends that a full risk assessment is carried out before undertaking in the classroom any of the practical investigations contained in the resources.

All materials are ©Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) and are freely available to download and share for educational purposes. Whilst educators are free to adapt the resources to suit their own needs, acknowledgement of copyright on all original materials must be included. Rights to images included in the resource have been purchased for PSTT use only – as such, these images may only be used as part of this resource and may not copied into or used in other materials.



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