The Key Stage Four Education Centre (KS4EC) supports young people from all over Swansea attending from Year 10 to Year 11 who are educated at KS4EC. The children are normally based at the centre for two years of studies and take a range of vocational and academic qualifications in readiness for them to enter the world of work.
The school currently has 34 students, all are referred because of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and some have additional learning difficulties that will include ADHD, dyslexia, mental health issues and speech and language difficulties.
The school believes strongly in providing the children with a stable and secure environment and meaningful contexts to develop their skills which will keep them engaged, motivated and build and raise their self esteem.
Miss Kitchener as head teacher identified the need to provide a focus for the students to undertake group and independent project based work to investigate on a weekly basis. The context would aim to give the children the opportunity to develop their key and social skills along with their formal curriculum based studies.
Each Monday the Head teacher leads the school in a PSE based assembly on a relevant issue. At the end of the assembly she poses a challenge to the children to research the particular issue further using the resources made available by the school.
Over the last year the school has made considerable investment to provide reliable good quality equipment to enable the students to undertake their work. New desktops computers have been purchased along with interactive Smart Boards and multimedia projector for each learning area. Each area currently has two internet connected PC’s along with a colour desk jet printer to enable the children to print out their work and arrange it into a display as shown on the photo.
The students work closely with the class teacher in small groups to undertake research using the computer in both the ‘reading room’ and the ‘classroom’ to present information found from both book based and web based resources. They supplement images found using internet searches with digital camera images which they take themselves where appropriate using cameras purchased specifically for this approach.
The students then present their research using desktop publishing and word processing software and print out their completed work for inclusion on a group display board illustrating the work undertaken. The example shown in the photograph relates to work undertaken on the issue of War and Remembrance Day. This cross curricular work supported work undertaken in ICT and English.
The skills used in ICT and language are then recorded in the weekly education plan for each child.
The head teacher feels that there have been both academic and social benefits from undertaking this approach with the students. Miss Kitchener feels that the students have benefitted from raised self esteem and are highly motivated by the challenge posed.
Miss Kitchener felt that it had particularly helped the students who did not have access to a computer or the internet at home as they were given opportunities to access materials, information and develop skills that they would not have at home.
She feels that their language, ICT and research skills have been enhanced by the work that they have undertaken and that is has had further impact on the range of academic courses that the school provides. As a result of the interest generated by this approach, the school now offers GCSE Media Studies and has had further success in its pass rates for GCSE ICT.
The investment in ICT equipment through the school has had further benefits for other learning areas such as GCSE R.E. where access to online materials and information has contributed positively to teaching and learning. In addition to this the investment in the ICT has enhanced work with the career service as students are now able to access further information via the internet and Career Wales website.