The Brook Special Needs School – Glass in Society Project recipient
You’d really have to be a teacher to fully understand the day-to-day challenges that are being faced in schools, especially now with this extraordinary time of the Corona Virus Pandemic. Assessing need and vulnerability – providing support both to children and parents as they face numerous hardships and dilemmas. The Glass Sellers Charity Fund through its Glass in Society Project was delighted to engage with the Brook Special Needs School and learn about how they are coping.
The school is part of the Broadwaters Inclusive Learning Community which means that they share their values, vision, ethos and aspirations with the Willow Primary School and the Broadwaters Children’s Centre. What is more, they share a ground-breaking state of the art building. Their inclusive approach means that pupils live together in an aspirational learning environment where every need is met.
The pupils are aged 4 – 11 and have a range of needs such as Autism, severe and complex learning difficulties as well as associated physical, medical, and emotional needs. This means that they need a safe, specialist environment to help them learn and reach their potential.
Laughter, excitement and enthusiasm are evident in all aspects of school life. The emphasis on communication, creativity, physical and personal development means that pupils develop into self-confident learners who are rightly proud of themselves and their achievements. The highly trained staff work closely with specialist practitioners and are constantly striving to give the pupils the best experience at school. They aim to enable the pupils to move confidently onto the next stage of their lives.
The Charity Fund is supplying funding for projects that aim to support the pupils to develop their scientific knowledge and exploration by using various equipment to learn about the natural world, the school environment and to improve their self-awareness of their own identity and bodies.
The children work in small groups with intensive adult support and specialist input in order to build up their knowledge slowly. They need to revisit concepts and topics frequently so that they can retain what they have learnt. The projects will all be experiential encouraging pupils to observe closely, to consider and question what they see and to record their work through assistive technology, photographs, and drawings.
The all about me and my senses project introduces them to the use of different mirrors and reflective surfaces and equipment so that they can gradually build up an understanding of their body and their identity. The resources will also allow them to explore these concepts in a variety of settings both inside and outside the classroom and the school and will allow the students to explore further afield in the local community.
The Life-cycle project will be conducted mostly on site as they have both a forest, a pond and a sensory garden. Without the appropriate equipment it had not been possible to explore bug and tadpole life cycles in a hands-on fashion and we have had to resort to using photographs and videos which are less impactful for pupils with severe special needs and learning disabilities.
Each of the three environments will be explored to identify what bugs live there and what their habitats are. The children will be exposed to caterpillars, woodlice, tadpoles primarily but will inevitably find many other creatures of interest.
We also hope to be able to have fertilised eggs in an incubator so that the children can watch the chicks hatch and grow until they are returned to the charity which ‘hires’ out this resource.
Both projects will raise the children’s curiosity level, will prompt them to ask questions; will expose them to new experiences and will encourage them to transfer their exploratory skills to other environments when they are out and about in the community and to link what they see with previous experiences.