Education Partnership North East’s curriculum and support staff have developed innovative online learning methods for students to continue their studies at home, be engaged and motivated in their learning and to provide ongoing support.
Anticipating the government’s decision to suspend face to face learning and recognising that staying at home can be more disruptive to the lives and routines of children with special educational needs and disabilities, the college’s Foundation Learning team (Directions) provided its 102 families with online educational resources, tasks, sensory stories and websites to access at home.
Each student was provided with a Google Classroom log in and step-by-step infographics of how to access their main learning pathways such as employability, community engagement or sensory learning, with teaching staff following up with telephone calls to identify and resolve issues.
Pathways sessions are supported by English, maths, personal social development and ICT, with each subject area timetabled throughout the week.
As some students are unable to access college campuses during lockdown, the sensory learning pathway is inspiring parents to read recommended stories reinforced by everyday props from around the house.
With a focus on developing practical skills, parents and carers have been encouraged to involve children in household activities such as ironing, washing, sorting and cleaning, while recording progress and providing feedback that meets their needs.
Learners with mental health conditions who are especially at risk from social isolation have been given resources to strengthen their emotional resilience with their welfare and wellbeing being monitored closely.
The Foundations Learning team have harnessed the power of social media to communicate with and engage families in a fun way, introducing online Makaton sing-alongs, talent shows and a closed YouTube channel for a safe video interaction space.
“Jessica is enjoying the sensory stories provided by the college using items around the house. We’ve been baking as Jessica enjoys the bakery lessons and wanted to continue that at home.
“We’ve been on walks and in the garden, with Jessica enjoying her sensory lights in the den we’ve made and song time with instruments and hand and foot massages. She is also using her eye gaze.
“I’m trying to do things that I know Jess enjoys at college and I’ve been well supported with regular phone calls and emails from her lecturers Tom, Rebecca and mentor Gillian. Nicola, the speech therapist, is also available should I have any concerns or need help.”
“Although the continuation of learning is very important, the main focus of the activities is the supporting of mental health and trying to reduce feelings of isolation so that students continue to feel safe and their parents or carers feel supported.
“At the present time not all of our learners can access online learning for a number of reasons, however they are still being engaged by paper-based resources that have been and are continuing to be prepared by the team who are hand delivering these learning packs to students’ homes.
“We are using various different models to meet the specific needs of our learners and parents just as we would if they were in college.”
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