Established in 1955, Craig-y-Parc is part of the Charity SCOPE and provides education and residential care to children and young adults aged 4 - 19 with cerebral palsy and related conditions in a purpose-built school attached to a 17th Century manor house near Cardiff.
The school provides access to the National Curriculum for pupils who have a wide range of needs and abilities. Each pupil is assessed by a multidisciplinary team including teachers, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and care staff and personalized learning pathways are created to enable him or her to progress educationally, physically and personally.
The emphasis is on finding forms of teaching and activities, which are appropriate to each child. Riding, hydrotherapy, sport and the school's nature trail and sensory room all play a part in encouraging the children to become mobile and independent. The school is a Centre of Excellence for move and provides Conductive Education and Sensory Motor support
ICT plays a key role in supporting and enabling children to gain access to the curriculum and to develop the ability to communicate effectively both in social and academic settings. One of the aims of the school is that the skills developed are generalised by the young people in other settings and as such the young people access the wider community to develop these skills in a wide variety of social settings
The Assistive Technology Manager, Mr Peak works closely with the pupils, teachers, parents, and staff from a variety of agencies including SALT and Occupational Therapy within the school to facilitate access to curriculum resources. A system has been set up in the school where Mr. Peak looks at the unique access method that an individual child would need to access learning. He creates resources then transfers them into a format that enables the child to access and develop their independence. This helps everyone to work together to meet the shared goals of all the agencies involved within the school.
On admission to school, Mr. Peak undertakes an assessment of the best way for a child to use ICT to aid computer control and communication. He then identifies products and techniques, which can best aid the child. This information is put into packs, which enable the class teacher and support assistants to tailor resources to the needs of the individual child.
Mr. Peak has worked closely with the literacy co-ordinator at the school to support the themes that will feature as part of the whole school curriculum. The aim however is not just to provide material in a format that the children can access but to also put in place systems whereby the child can record evidence of their work themselves, rather than being reliant upon digital photographs or video clips to evidence and track the progress that they make..
Examples of the work undertaken include Mr. Peak using Clicker 5 to present texts to the children, working closely with the literacy co-ordinator to re-tell fairy tales such as Cinderella. This has involved the use of royalty free pictures to accompany the story. By using Clicker 5 he is able to give the children a certain degree of independence and control by using switches and other access devices and techniques. Versions of the story have been developed for both single and multiple switch use depending on the needs of the child. The multiple use versions include linked colour coded buttons to enable the children to move forward through the story; to get the computer to play the sound clip of Mr. Peak reading the text or to move back to a previous page.
Literacy based activities such as comprehensions have also been created in Clicker 5 or Choose It Maker 2, posing questions such as ‘Who was horrible to Cinderella?’ The children then use switches, if required, to navigate through and select the correct answer.
The final step in the program that the team have established is getting the children to express their views on a story and reflect on it. This is done by the creation of structured activities in Clicker 5, which the children can navigate through and choose options and words that express how they feel about the particular story. This can then be saved and printed out as a record of the child’s work on the particular story.
The school has found the work undertaken in this area to be of great benefit to the children, parents and staff involved. The children are engaged in their activities and are able to use the ICT aspect to communicate their views, thoughts and opinions even though it can be a challenge to express them.
The software has meant that the children are able to take increasing control of their use of resources and are able to be supported both by the software and also the teacher or assistants. The use of ICT has also been a strong motivational factor as the children enjoy using the computers and so are more willing to undertake the activities.The use of software such as Clicker 5 helps to give the children confidence in readiness for other pieces of more complicated computer control and communication software such as The Grid 2 for those whose needs require that level of support.