May 2020 Issue 22
Supporting staff and students to achieve their full potential
(Est. 1968)

CENMAC is open 

If you would like any help with CENMAC equipment at home:
Tel. 020 88541019   email.  


Dear CENMAC Community,

Symbol of web chatWe have never needed assistive and inclusive technology as much as we do now! Using our screens to keep in contact with friends and family, as a replacement for the gym, learning a new skill and to go to work. It’s brilliant seeing the creativity and some of the inspirational adaptions to our lifestyles with these tools.  

Here at CENMAC we have been thrilled to rebuild over 100 of our old laptops and donate these to many schools with students in need of technology to get online at home.  

With spending so much time on technology at home our online safety and security is so important. We are using this newsletter to share some helpful advice and guidance as well as share even more offers of free resources and logins.  

Help is now available from the government to fund technology for home use for those who qualify and for Schools/Trusts to set up digital education platforms - click here for more details.

We are continuing to provide a service even in these unique circumstances. Please do let us know if you need assistance with your technology, training, advice and/or support. We are here to help.  

Finally, I would just like to welcome Wayne to our team, it must be the strangest way to start a new job but we symbol of a handare so pleased to have Wayne as part of the team and look forward to when we can all meet in person!   

Stay safe and well, 

Kathryn Stowell

Image © Vector Stock and  Widgit software 'Help' symbol

Let's welcome our new team member Wayne

Man smiling'I have been working as a teacher for nearly ten years and I have taught in a range of different settings including hospital schools, special needs schools and primary schools. During this time, I have supported students with a range of educational needs from SLD to MLD, ASD, SEMH and BESD.

What has really inspired me, is how technology can help support a student’s learning, from using video conferencing software to teach lessons within a hospital to using specialised software to create personalised learning resources to engage students with SLD and see them progress and achieve.

I am really excited to be joining the CENMAC team and working together to help to support the students, families and schools with the different types of technology.'

School Closure

School closures have affected most schools. Many learners and staff are at home. Home learning and online communications have never been more important. These are just a few of our favourite online communication tools, home learning and CPD resources.

Online Communication Tools 

symbols of communication

Your organisation will probably be already using some of their more established platforms to communicate with the wider school community, such as your website and social media platforms. 


woman at computerHowever, when it comes to education teachers understand that interaction is a vital part of learning - whether it be between staff, teacher-to-student or student-to-student collaboration. You'll need to think through the safety concerns. The NSPCC has produced some helpful guidance on undertaking online teaching safely, and each school will need to develop a set of safe working practices and policies.  

However, these are extraordinary times. As teachers experiment with online platforms they may find that online collaboration might appeal more to some learners who find the pressure of communicating in face-to-face environments intimidating. There are anonymous polls built into Teams, for example. 

Head and shoulders of manWe've been experimenting with a range of online communication tools. At CENMAC, we are using Office 365 and have been very impressed with Microsoft Teams as it integrates very effectively into 365. If you have 365 already in your organisation, then your staff and students will have access at home as part of your package. There are some very helpful video guides on: Tony Phillip's blog

Of course there is a huge range of alternative online communication tools available, but below are some popular platforms currently being used. The pros and cons are based on feedback from reviews:

Above, Tony Philip

Microsoft Teams

  • Microsoft products will be already familiar to many people. Being a Microsoft product it integrates very effectively with Office 365.  
  • Compatible with Windows, iOS and Android. It is also possible to have participants dial into calls on the telephone. 

  • Able to share screens in the call, and work collaboratively on documents.


  • Able to communicate within or outside of your organisation. 
  • Up to 250 participants in a conference call.

  • You may have some restrictions through your organisation in some features and apps within Teams. 

  • Established provider, with a good record on privacy and encryption. 

  • Up to 32 participants in a Group FaceTime call. 

  • Easy to use with a good user interface.

  • Only available on Apple devices, such as a Mac, iPhone or iPad.

  • Attractive user interface and a very capable and stable video conferencing platform 

  • Possible to invite users to a conference call with a simple, custom URL. 

  • Up to 100 participants in a video call. 

  • Basic version is free

  • Need to pay for conference calls of more than two people lasting over 40 mins.  

  • Less established, and there have been concerns raised over the company’s security and encryption.

Google Hangout

  • Slick and user-friendly platform. 
  • Good integration with Google account
  • 150 people can be in a Google hangout
  • Video calls are limited to 25 participants

  • Only use if you have a Google account, but free and easy to set up.

Home Learning Resources

Star line logo

StarLine is a telephone helpline for parents and carers, giving them direct access to a team of qualified teachers and education experts who can give free one-to-one advice and reassurances. Alongside this will be StarLive, a series of YouTube broadcasts that will provide tips, techniques and resources on a range of education and welfare-related themes that are ‘trending’ on StarLine.

CENMAC is pleased to be partnering with StarLine to support their helpline with volunteering some teacher time.


Crick Software

Boy and woman looking at iPad
© Charlton Park Academy

Crick Software are offering free access to their acclaimed software, Clicker and DocsPlus to all students and staff at schools closed by Coronavirus.

Clicker, although aimed at primary aged learners, is excellent for all learners and has over 2000 resources already prepared for use in a number of topics and subjects.  

DocsPlus is targeted at secondary aged students and beyond and has over 600 resources ready made online. It gives students with high incidence special needs the support they need to independently tackle curriculum writing tasks. It can also be used by many learners who require additional access arrangements for exams. 

Crick's online training resources are very comprehensive, and there are a series of short video guides that will help you learn the basics. This is a helpful webinar on using Clicker for home learning:

CENTURY: Century is offering free access to schools and families to their Maths, English and Science courses. It works by using Artificial Intelligence, neuroscience and the latest in educational research to dynamically adapt learning for individual students as they progress through the course.

SENSORY APP HOUSE: A great range of free apps for sensory stimulation, relaxation, cause & effect, for digital painting & art, camera photo fun and for speech stimulation, control & therapy

BRAIN PARADE: A revolutionary app serving as a visual learning system that assists with language for children with autism and other learning disabilities.

DUOLINGO: Duolingo, the creator of the acclaimed free language learning app, have recently released an app to teach reading to younger learners. It's currently available on iOS and is free. An android version is coming soon. Initial feedback from our own housebound children has been very positive.

LIBERATOR: This helpful resource allows you to take a preferred toy or activity and think about how you can target different language functions within it.

Top tip! Look through the examples and see if any are relevant to the person you are supporting. If not, you can create your own using the blank form at the end of the pack.   

BBC Bitesize: BBC Bitesize are offering daily homeschooling lessons for students from years 1 to 10 that have been created with teachers and other educational experts and feature a mix of videos, animations, practice activities, quizzes and games.

DFE: The DfE has published an extensive list of home learning resources across the curriculum along with some general guidance for parents on home learning for primary aged children.

NSPCC: The NSPCC has published guidance for parents and schools around home-educating, including SEND students. Their guidance on e-safety is particularly useful .

LGfL: LGfL have links to e-Safety resources on their website. The London Grid for Learning have published extensive e-Safety guidance on their website.


As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread worldwide, HelpKidzLearn wants to ensure that teachers and students stay connected and children continue their learning at home with minimum disruption. Here is a list of resources available for parents to use at home during this period and beyond:

Parents and carers can register for a trial account and have access to a range of resources.

Alternatively, if they download the Choose IT Maker 3 app which is only available on the Apple Store they can download some activities for free using the codes below.
  • JDDVAG - And Explore a World of Dinosaurs
  • XJAPHY - To Explore the vast Solar System
  • XGPVTM - Discover and Explore Minibeasts
  • FUTYQU - Learn and Explore Modern Art
A handwritten reviewDuo lingo logo
Mary Long, Advisory Teacher for CENMAC says: Mary Long, Advisory Teacher for CENMAC says: Duo Lingo ABC is a very helpful app for children at an early stage of learning to read and write. It's fairly new as a free app for IOS, and should be coming to Android soon.

Left: Review by Donovan, aged 12

Maximising Assistive Technology
By Toby Seriki, AT Learning Support Assistant

man head and shoulderI have worked as a Learning Support Assistant, providing 1:1 support for a young person in mainstream education with a physical disability and specific learning difficulties. Part of this role involved working closely with CENMAC to deliver an assistive technology package aimed at improving the young person’s ability to access the curriculum. Assistive technology has the ability to hugely empower and unlock the true potential of young people who may otherwise struggle to access their curriculum. Based on my experience working as an LSA, I believe that there are a number of ways the positive impact of assistive technology can be maximised.

Read the full article here: Maximising Assistive Technology.pdf
Professional Development

Young man on computer
© Charlton Park Academy

With students at home, this may be a good opportunity for staff training and development. If you would like any bespoke training or support with your CENMAC provided hardware or software, please do get in contact and we will do our best to help. 

Or you may want to direct staff toward these helpful online resources. 

Microsoftwebinar icon
There are an increasing number of accessibility functions built into Microsoft Windows and Office. Take a look at the Accessibility Learning Webinar Series which introduces some of them. At CENMAC, we've been particularly impressed with Immersive Reader. Microsoft have published an Accessibility Learning Webinar series which is worth watching if you're interested in learning more.

CALL Scotland

As always, Call Scotland are a good source for information on all aspects of Assistive Technology. Their 20 minute long webinars are on their website, and are well worth a look.

This month our newsletter has been compiled by Benjamin Annett, CENMAC Advisory Teacher
CENMAC and Charlton Park Academy Vimeo Channel
CENMAC - based at Charlton Park Academy (est.1968)
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