Carolyn Hughes studied Literature and Communications Studies at Liverpool John Moores University, and began teaching 20 years ago at a Primary School in Wirral. She moved to Meadowside Special School in 2001, as Subject Leader for Music. Carolyn became Strategic Leader for ICT across the school and a member of the Senior Leadership Team. Meadowside School caters for secondary-aged pupils with complex needs, ranging from PMLD to MLD, and the teachers use ICT to develop communication, independence, and also for fun! Carolyn is also a parent to four children, the youngest of whom has Down’s Syndrome and communication difficulties.
When I began teaching in the early 1990s, schools were approaching the Millennium with great anticipation for a futuristic world of gadgets and technologies. The best we had at that time was a BBC B Computer, hooked up to a dot matrix printer with that awful neverending sheet of paper with the holes in the sides. In some classrooms they were seen as glorified typewriters so that kids could type up a good piece of writing. More adventurous uses included simple programming and filling the screen with scrolling text from a few lines of code.
Christmas is extremely motivating for many learners with SEN, and it can definitely be a time to mix learning with fun (good teaching should always be perceived by pupils as fun). Innovative uses of technology bring education alive and create a positive climate for learning. Here are my favourite resources for teaching SEN at Christmas:
It seems, at times, that SEN teaching might well be the most rewarding area of education. Some of these pupils have immense obstacles to overcome as part of their learning, and specialist teachers are always finding new and inventive ways to assist them. Carolyn Hughes, ICT leader at Meadowside Special School in Birkenhead, Merseyside, discusses the technological options available for making as many areas as SEN-accessible as possible.
Technology has a great role to play in improving access for learners with physical barriers to learning. For many with additional SEN, the assistive technology can be challenging itself; trying to make it personalised to the individual learner, to make is usable and purposeful. It should be asked, “What do we want the learners to do that they cannot do without assistive technology?”