An App Development pilot
Over the last academic year, we have been busy piloting a potential SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) course with schools across the country. With the support of WCIT, we have been able to bring the tried and tested methodology within our App Development course to schools and students who had no experience of our courses.
With the help of the fantastic team at Grain, we interviewed one of the dedicated teachers from a pilot school, Stony Dean. Stony Dean is a specialist SEN school in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, which introduced our App Development course in January 2022 over six weeks.
The school’s programme strategy follows 3 key pillars: Computational Thinking, Digital Literacy and Online Safety. The staff at the school believed the course complemented the school’s strategy well, particularly in aiding computational thinking. Stony Dean, like many SEN schools, aims to develop their student’s communication, problem solving and listening skills. These are all valuable life lessons that are often overlooked and taken for granted. The App Development course invites students to come together and discuss societal problems such as community needs in an easy and accessible way, supporting ‘out of the box’ thinking and encouraging communication amongst the teams.
How has it been received?
Students are incredibly excited about the idea of being involved with the app-making process. This level of excitement and engagement in the classroom creates a positive learning environment. Members of staff have acknowledged that the first iteration of the course has potential to include even more interactivity for students to capture that excitement. Through hearing about the classroom interactions at Stony Dean, we learned valuable information about how to continue developing our future courses to ensure that language, accessibility and time-frames were as inclusive as possible.
Did the course fulfil the needs of Stony Dean?
The development plan for the school, works to prepare their students towards independent living, effective communication and employability skills. The course helps teach and enhance these transferable skills, in keeping with the aims of the school. The course pushes students to think outside of themselves and to wider scale issues such as the community and difficulties shared by friends and family.
Stony Dean has been involved with many similar projects in the past that have aimed to improve the education systems within SEN schools. Along with signing up to participate in our trial, the school was also involved in the creation of an interactive game geared towards special needs children. The game focuses on internet safety – check it out here!
Using the feedback from the staff at Stony Dean, we have been working hard to ensure our courses are inclusive to all. Our blog post outlines the ways we have achieved this, such as incorporating Universal Design into our Innovate for Climate Change materials.
We couldn’t do what we do without the help of our funders and partners. We learned invaluable lessons from our SEND pilot and couldn’t have done so without the help of our fantastic funder and partner, WCIT. We’d also like to thank the team at Grain, particularly Madelyn Postman and Róisín O’Connor Flanagan, for supporting us in our communications of the SEN pilot course. Finally, we'd like to say a huge thank you to students and teachers at Glenwood School, Pentland Field School, Springhallow School and Stony Dean School for their feedback and guidance on inclusivity in our courses. In particular, thank you to Tom Boardman at Stony Dean for allowing us to interview him on his experiences and sharing his practice with us.