SUMMARY: Special Educational Strategies


What are the most effective strategies for teaching children with special educational needs? And everyone else!

David Mitchell (2014) has spent time collating all the research to analyse which strategies are effective when teaching children with special, individual needs. As I believe that what has been shown to work for individual children with needs, can also benefit their peers and class mates, these strategies can be utilised in mine, and your classroom.


David uses a star method for effectiveness:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 4.41.59 pm= convincing or strong evidence with a 0.7 effect size or greater.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 4.42.06 pm= good evidence with a 0.31 – 0.69 effect size.

4 of 5 Stars

Cooperative Group teaching – Help learners to learn from each other 

Peer tutoring and peer influences – Utilise peers to teach and support each other

Parent involvement and support – Respect families’ rights, skills and needs

Memory strategies: Mnemonics – Help learners remember important information

Review and practice – Practice makes perfect

Reciprocal teaching – Help learners understand what they read

Behavioural approaches – Control antecedents and consequences to change behaviours

Functional Behavioural Assessment – Change problem behaviours by changing their antecedents and consequences

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – Help learners change their negative thinking

Direct instruction – Make lessons highly structures, briskly paced and successful

Formative assessment and feedback – Regularly check and inform learners of their progress

Augmentative and alternative communication – Utilise all means to develop communication skills

Phonological awareness and phonological processing – Use a sound reading strategy

Quality of the indoor physical environment – Provide a physical environment that enables learning

Opportunities to learn – Provide sufficient quantity and quality of time for learning




Social Skills training – Teach learners how to positively interact with others

Cognitive Strategy instruction – Teach learners ways of thinking

Self-regulated learning – Help learners take control of their own learning

Response to intervention – Employ a gradation of evidence-based interventions to take account of the extent of individual needs

Classroom climate – Create a safe, positive and motivating classroom environment

School-wide positive behaviour support – Create a multi-tiered system to prevent or minimise problem behaviours 

Success for all – Create a multi-tiered system to prevent or minimise problem behaviours 


3 of 5 Stars


Collaborative teaching – Become an effective team player

Assistive technology – Enhance learners skills

School culture – Create a multi-tiered system to prevent or minimise problem behaviours 

Wraparound intervention – Move from fragmented to coordinated services

Full-service schools – Move from fragmented to coordinated services

Inclusive education – Adapt the classroom programme to suit all learners


Un-rated Strategies

Universal Design for Learning – Ensure all learners always have access to all aspects of learning



Mitchell, David. (2014). What really works in special and inclusive education: Using evidencebased

teaching strategies. Retrieved from


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