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Mathematics for Children with
Severe and Profound Learning Difficulties

Book cover of Mathematics for Children with Severe and Profound Learning Difficulties This is the first book by Les Staves of Very Special Maths. It complements the training courses and provides a readily accessible reference work for the main elements of Very Special Maths consultancy areas.

The book was published by David Fulton Press has been very well received -- both by the critics and the teaching profession. The first print run sold out in seven months.

The Times Educational Supplement carried a review of this book.


Of all the curriculum subjects, mathematics can sometimes cause the most concern for teachers of children with severe and profound learning difficulties.

The book also covers a wide range of approaches to teaching and learning and demonstrates how mathematics can be related to personal and social development, communication and thinking skills.

This book:
  • offers practical advice on how to develop the mathematical abilities of these children;
  • explains how children develop early mathemetical concepts;
  • describes the foundation elements of teaching mathematics that the National Curriculum and National Numeracy Strategy does not cover in detail;
  • provides help on planning appropriate lessons and guidance on including pupils within the approaches of the National Numeracy Strategy;
  • and gives guidance on creating a continuum of assessment and recording that can cover the wide range of abilities of pupils in special schools, and can support individual target setting.

Written with the non-specialist in mind and including plenty of practical examples, it should be useful for teachers in mainstream and special schools, as well as learning support assistants. Early years practitioners and teachers in training may find the book useful for its descriptions of how children acquire their foundation of early mathematics and numeracy skills.
To order a signed copy of this book direct from the author for just £20 + 3 P&P including delivery -- please email: - or use the form on the Contact Page.  

The EQUALS Guide to Teaching Mathematics
Supporting access for pupils working towards the National Curriculum

Book cover of The EQUALS Guide to Teaching Mathematics This guide has been developed and written by Les for EQUALS.

It is the most comprehensive document about teaching mathematics to very special pupils yet produced.

It advocates holistic mathematics teaching through experiential learning, making use of mixed ability teaching in social groups as much as possible.


Special Schools and other settings that provide for pupils with special needs vary so much in their population, both in the nature of pupils needs and their ages, that it is not feasible to provide planning material or set out one scheme of work to suit all - however there is material in this guide that will help schools develop schemes to match their own circumstances.

The guide includes five sections four of which are printed as booklets. The fifth section is a very extensive collection of examples relating P scales to the strands of mathematics which are used by the Primary Framework and the EYFS is included on CD. The CD also includes a number of useful appendices that draw different parts of the guide together into documents useful for particular purposes, and a glossary.

The sections of the guide:
  • Section 1 -- About the curriculum
    • About the nature of a suitable curriculum
    • About the content and activities of a suitable curriculum
  • Section 2 -- About Progress
    • About the nature of progress
    • The scope of special maths at different key stages
  • Section 3 -- About Planning
    Outlines an overview of planning and suggestions relating to either:
    • Following the delivery blocks and units - advocated by the National Primary Framework
    • Or developing alternative timetables that deliver the strands through traditional weekly cycles
  • Section 4 -- About Teaching
    This section discusses aspects of teaching and learning related to mathematical development . It begins at the very earliest levels and works through to the development of counting and mathematical ideas. Its chapters include:
    • Aspects of teaching and learning for pupils at the earliest levels of development- Discussing issues related to teaching pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties
    • The role of sensory systems in developing mathematical skills - Raising awareness about the effects of various sensory deficits and discussing the provision of compensatory or alternative experiences.
    • The roles of physical activity in learning - including the roles of schema - Beginning with the development of intentional reactions and working through to discussions about the importance of play and developing schema associated to developing thinking related to practical and socially useful mathematics.
    • The influences of attention and perception in learning. - Affecting all pupils but particularly including difficulties encountered by pupils with profound and multiple difficulties or those on the autistic spectrum.
    • The role of communication in mathematical learning. - Discussing the course of development from preverbal levels; through the influence of language on learning to 'think'; to understanding mathematical language
    • Developing mathematical ideas - from the earliest steps of cognitive development; developing perception and a sense of number; through to learning about counting and beginning to understand the ideas related to addition and subtraction.
  • Section 5 -- About Pupils Development - Referencing to P scales (On CD)
    This is an extensive reference section that is produced on CD it is the most comprehensive reference of pupils' activities relating to P scales examples and mathematics produced to date.

  • EQUALS periodically organises workshop days in London or regions where Les provides an introduction to the guide - contact them for dates.
  • EQUALS can arrange whole school, consortium or LEA training days - contact them for dates.

Ordering information:

This Guide can be ordered from EQUALS: PO Box 107, North Shields, Tyne & Wear NE30 2YG tel 0191 272 8600   
Order now...