The eLearning Service has always worked with a number of special schools in the city and beyond looking at how technology can support learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). When the Computing curriculum was announced, we began to work with these schools to look at how the curriculum could be adapted to include these learners and remain relevant. We have run a number of conferences and training events for special schools in the intervening years and two things have become clear:
1. Teachers in special schools are fantastic at adapting the national curriculum in creative and meaningful ways for their students.
2. There aren’t a great deal of resources for computing aimed at learners with SEND.
Last year, therefore, I decided I wanted to know a bit more about what was happening in special schools and similar settings around computing, and to collate the resources and strategies that are proving succesful, in order to share these more widely. I created a survey that was completed by 68 teachers, and have since been writing a report based on the findings.
To read the report in full, pop over to the SEND Computing Report page.
- 44% of schools represented in the survey are teaching the 2014 Computing curriculum, 3 schools are teaching no ICT or Computing, the rest are teaching some form of ICT.
- Two thirds of respondents consider themselves to be confident in teaching the Computing curriculum.
- The main barrier to teaching computing is the lack of SEND specific resources (72% of respondents mentioned this).
- The teachers generally consider computing/ICT to be relevant to their students, but are more divided on the relevance of programming and computational thinking.
- The most popular stratagies for teaching programming and computational thinking are unplugged activities, physical computing devices and using relevant, personalised tasks.
For a collection of resources and ideas for teaching computing to SEND students, please visit http://sendcomputing.info/ – this is currently under construction. It is free for teachers to use, and we welcome any more resources to add to the collection.
If you work in a special school and are interested in setting up an action research project around any of the themes arising in the report, drop me a line – it would be great to back up the findings with some more evidence of what does and doesn’t work: firstname.lastname@example.org.