It’s been one of those weeks where we’ve been able to showcase some of the best work in the Trust.
On Monday morning I was asked to deliver a keynote speech, along with Dr Adam Boddison (CEO of NASEN). Adam and I had been asked to present on accessibility issues. Adam was able to offer a national context relating to the increased numbers of young people, both within mainstream and specialist schools, who now have the support of an Education, Health and Care plan. The rise has been steady since 2015 and continues to grow year on year. Adam also commented on the wealth of assistive technology that is now available to support all young people.
There was a discussion around scanning pens, screen overlays, screen magnifiers, noise cancelling headphones, voice to text software, voice recognition software, eye gaze technology and alternative keyboards.
I outlined how all of these technologies are used throughout our schools and organisations. It is quite amazing that the young people accept these technologies as being common. I really love the fact that our schools don’t see the use of technology in isolation. They see its core purpose as to enhance the curriculum and community offer. It is as essential as a pen, pencil or piece of paper. I really enjoyed telling colleagues on the session about the impact technology has had for all our learners.
On Monday we were also able to tell our Tameside families our plans relating to Hawthorns 2. Colleagues from the local authority were able to outline where we are up to in the process. They have sourced a site and are near to ringfencing a considerable amount of capital money. More news to follow. It promises to be very exciting.
In the middle of the week, we were contacted by central government who were requesting we offer them examples of how our older students (aged between 16 and 19) had presented during lockdown and on their return to school and college. Our team at the Learning Centre were able to offer an amazing list of interventions that have, and continue, to take place. Here’s a flavour:
- Keeping in touch with current affairs by watching Newsround, leading to discussions around key issues and events such as Black History Month and the Pandemic.
- Daily mindfulness sessions.
- Re-connecting with each other through researching what makes a good friend, sharing a smile and giving thumbs up to a friend.
- Looking at feelings and emotions and ways in which we can regulate them.
- Using Jigsaw students have participated in ‘looking after myself’, ‘managing difficult feelings’ and ‘looking forward, beyond Covid 19’.
- Ideas have been utilised from ‘A Toolbox of Wellbeing’ by Tina Rae and ‘The Tribal Classroom’ by Adrian Bethune.
- Lifelong Learning Skills, teamwork, turn taking, respecting others.
- Feelings jars.
- Relating activities and learning to the 5 Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.
- Students have enjoyed participating in a range of art and craft based activities such as knitting, colouring, working with salt dough.
- Physical health has an impact on mental health and students have participated in yoga, seated yoga, fit boost and a range of sporting activities outside.
- ‘The Book of Hope’ – stories related to coming out of lockdown. During the good weather, classes went outside to read this e-book.
- Through instruction via YouTube students have engaged in Tai Chi.
- Classes have been allocated time to enjoy outside space, this has been utilised in a variety of ways from bringing lessons outside to appreciating nature and our surroundings.
- It is well known that gardening has many benefits in supporting mental health and wellbeing and we have extensive grounds at the Learning Centre. Mr Blackman organised the equipment and a list of jobs that needed doing and our students have worked tirelessly improving the aesthetics of our grounds, especially the staff wellbeing area and the polytunnel.
On top of all of this, I forwarded some of the relaxation films our Lumenus students had developed for distribution to our younger children. I’m led to believe that half the Department for Education were asleep on Thursday afternoon!! No comments please!
All in all, a great week.
Please take care and stay safe,
You can find all Graham’s previous updates and blog entries here