Zippy's Friends for Pupils with Special Educational Needs

Pupils with Special Educational Needs are at much greater risk of developing mental health problems and there is a lack of suitable resources for these pupils to promote social and emotional wellbeing.

Our Zippy’s Friends for Pupils with Special Needs programme was developed in 2013 in collaboration with special schools with support from the National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools. Zippy’s Friends Inclusion Booklet for mainstream schools was adapted with alternative and additional activities to include a range of children with SEN to increase their coping and social skills.

The programme uses visual aids and Widgit Symbols. There are a variety of different activities for teachers to choose from depending on ability of the class or child and story has been adapted to four different reading levels.

The programme has been successfully implemented with 6-17 year olds.

  • See examples of the Zippy's Friends for Pupils with SEN resources

Zippy’s Friends for Pupils with Special Needs has been independently evaluated by the University of Birmingham thanks to a grant from The Judith Trust. Eight special schools from London, Birmingham, Surrey and Northamptonshire were recruited into the study, and teachers were specially trained to teach the programme. 

The findings of this study suggest that Zippy’s Friends for SEN "can have beneficial effects for children with SEN, particularly in the areas of self-awareness, ability to regulate emotions and relationship skills".


Jeff Adams, Teacher at Wren Spinney Community Special Schools talks about his experience of Zippy’s Friends for SEND. 


The Alex Panton Foundation, Partnership for Children’s licensed partner organisation in the Cayman Islands, launched Zippy’s Friends, Zippy’s Friends for Special Educational Needs and Apple’s Friends in October 2019. See their video here:


‘ I’d just like to say thank you for giving us resources which are appropriate for special schools, the success of this programme is truly stunning.’

UK Teacher