In March 2020, schools and colleges across the country suddenly found themselves supporting large numbers of children and young people to continue their learning from home. Specialist colleges have largely stayed open throughout the pandemic, welcoming some students on site and providing education and support to many more in their own homes. They have faced additional challenges in ensuring a meaningful learning experience for learners who ordinarily depend on sensory and experiential teaching and learning approaches, with input from a multi-disciplinary team of specialists.
We wanted to capture some of the effective practice we knew our colleges were engaged in and share it with FE providers working across the sector with learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Above all we wanted to provide a framework for supporting providers to focus on the quality of the home learning and support they were offering.
The advice, guidance, tools and resources presented on our Home Learning Website are intended to help colleges to set and maintain a high standard of home learning. While the material will be very helpful during the current pandemic, we believe much of it will remain useful in the future. For example, it will help colleges to
- support learners who cannot attend college during periods of ill-health
- offer more blended learning
- set learning tasks on snow days
- help learners who want to maintain skills during holidays
- involve parents and carers more fully in their young person’s learning
- encourage more independent learning for those students who are capable of it.
We are enormously grateful to all the contributors from Natspec member colleges who gave their time and shared their ideas and resources so generously. They have helped us create a resource that shows how, despite the situation in which we find ourselves, we can still connect with others, work together and provide high quality learning and support for our students.
Assistive Technology at home
TechAbility have put together a list of resources around technology and SEND aimed at aiding learning at home. The list covers communication aids, resources, basic accessibility hints for commonly used technology, as well as some general advice and guidance about home learning and working practice.
Our assistive technologists also produced a number of webinars covering various aspects of home learning. These include:
- Tech access for learners with complex needs / disabilities
- Tech access for learners using ‘mainstream’ assistive technology
- Remote teaching
- Remote therapy
- Microsoft Teams as a virtual learning environment
- Focus on assistive technology for parents and carers