Top Tips for teaching Science to children with SLCN

by Susan McMackin

Friday 9th March 2018 sees the start of International Science Week! To celebrate, we have put together our top tips for making science lessons more accessible for children with SLCN. 

1. Keep It Visual

Whenever possible supplement explanations of content visually using illustration and diagrams.

2. Keep It Practical

Demonstrate instructions using either a teacher model or a peer model. The opportunity to see a complex task carried out reduces the demand to process complex language.

3. Words Words Words

Write key words for the lesson on the whiteboard and discuss the meaning within the context of teaching. Pay close attention to double meaning to ensure when you are talking about ‘cells’ the pupil isn’t thinking prison.

4. Question

Check understanding using questioning and ensure you use the 10 second wait time rule before calling on pupils to respond. Pupils with SLCN may need more time to process language of the question and organise language to formulate a response.

5. Use Exemplars

Alongside clear success criteria, provide clear examples of the desired outcome for the task. Providing a clear exemplar of what a piece of work should look like, reduces the demand to process the language of complex explanations.

6. Use Visual Frameworks

Using graphic organisers such as Venn Diagrams, Mind Maps or Flow charts can help summarise complex information visually and helps make explicit the relationship between concepts. Asking pupils to sort information using a framework can be a very effective way of evaluating understanding of a topic.

7. Enlist Peer Support

Provide opportunities for peers to work and discuss aspects of topic in pairs or small groups. Whenever possible pair SLCN pupils with academically able peers to enable them to access strong peer models.

8. Love Mistakes

Provide a classroom culture which reinforces effort and resilience in learning not performance. Reinforce the notion that ‘mistakes’ are a healthy sign of learning and a positive indicator the work is pitched at the right level.  


Let us know what techniques you use to see them added to our list! Email