ICT creates new learning experiences for pupils with SEN

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ICT creates new learning experiences for pupils with SEN

Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre in Caerphilly uses gesture-based technology to help improve the independence, communication and interaction range of pupils with special educational needs. Following a review they introduced technology such as an interactive floor projector to allow pupils with complex needs to interact meaningfully with the environment. Pupils now rely less on others to provide their learning experiences.

Number of pupils: 129
Age range: 3 - 19 years
Date of Estyn inspection: November 2012

Context and background to sector-leading practice

Trinity Fields special school and resource centre opened in 1998. Pupils have a range of learning difficulties, including autistic spectrum disorder, profound and multiple difficulties, high medical needs and attendant syndromes, sensory impairments, communication disorders, emotional problems or physical difficulties.

The resource centre provides school, community and home based services for children, parents, carers and professionals.

The key objectives are to:

  • develop leisure activities;
  • promote inclusion;
  • improve arrangements for the transition from school to adult services; and
  • facilitate good joint working between agencies that provide for children and young people with disabilities and their families.

At Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre, we use gesture-based technology across the school to help improve the communication and independence of our pupils. Following a whole school review of pupils’ access to the curriculum through ICT, we identified gaps in provision for a group of pupils with complex needs. This group included pupils with permanent and multiple disabilities, behavioural and sensory processing problems.

After researching available and emerging technologies, we developed a long-term ICT development plan linked to the school improvement plan.

Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice

In the initial phase of autumn term 2011, we undertook a whole school practical enquiry into the use of iPad tablet as a tool for teaching and learning. This involved pupils with severe learning difficulties and profound and multiple learning difficulties trialling the technology.

The school led a PLC with other schools in south Wales to evaluate tablet computer applications and test their effectiveness in improving engagement levels in pupils. The working party listed the identified ‘Apps’ on the following public access websites: KinectSEN, iPad SEN PLC South Wales and EyeGazeSEN.

For pupils with a physical issue that hampers their access to ICT, we use gesture-based technology to increase their access levels and independence. This enables pupils to achieve things by themselves and not rely on others choosing and providing experiences for them. For example, in one of our classrooms, we provide a computer that pupils control with their eye movements. A group of pupils makes good use of this computer to make choices and take responsibility for their learning.

The school also provides motion-sensing equipment such as an interactive floor projector and a specialised sensor to enable 15 identified pupils with severe physical limitations and other difficulties to interact meaningfully with their environment through their own movement.

Following this developmental work using interactive programs and the motion-sensing sensor a working group has developed involving schools in England and Wales together with a number of independent SEN advisors.

Impact on provision and learners’ standards

The tablet computer working group of south Wales has evaluated the progress of a cross-section of pupils working at P scale 3 to P scale 8 level of the National Curriculum. Examples of how technology has helped pupils to improve their learning include:

  • increase cause and effect and exploration skills through use of a touch screen and motion-sensing Apps;
  • improved independent choice making using tablet computers to help multiple sensory processing;
  • increased communication for both verbal and preverbal pupils
  • increased ability to make choices; and
  • improved range of interaction.

The working group focused on 12 documented cases at the school to evaluate impact.