Peacehaven Community School: Continuing to raise the importance of SLCN

Peacehaven Community School, were this year's winners of the Secondary School of the Year, Shine a Light Award. We caught up with Clare O'Rourke, Speech and Language Teacher at PCS to hear about what the school has been doing since winning this prestigious award.

Since winning the Shine a Light Secondary School of the Year award last year Peacehaven Community School has continued to develop our SLCN practice.

We enjoyed a wonderful fund-raising day in October. Staff and students were invited to pay £1 to wear a Onesie for the day with all proceeds going to Leisha’s campaign to raise funds to buy a new electric wheelchair. To launch the day Leisha, a year 8 student with cerebral palsy that affects her speech as well as her mobility, plucked up the courage to address two whole school assemblies. She explained that as well as improving her access to workstations in lessons, the new wheelchair would also help her to join in with conversations with her peers, as she will be able to move around the school in an upright, standing position. Her clear message that she was ‘sick of not being able to join in conversations going on over my head’! was a real eye-opener for the other students.

As well as raising an incredible £983 on Onesie day, the whole school community’s awareness was raised of how using a wheelchair can affect inclusion in everyday communication. Leisha’s impressive speeches to the whole school taught us that we all need to think about positioning ourselves so that wheelchair users are not excluded from conversations. Thank you so much for this valuable lesson, Leisha!

Students with significant SLCN have also been busy fundraising for the wider community in their Life Skills lessons this term. 

Fundraising on onesie day

The year 9 students planned and hosted a Macmillan Coffee Morning; year 11 students raised money for the ABC fund, a local charity which supports disadvantaged families in Peacehaven. The students offered to pack shopping bags at the local supermarket in return for a donation to the charity. While developing valuable planning and social communication skills year 9 raised £91.80 for MacMillan and year 11 raised £245 for ABC.

Year 9 students plan and host a Macmillan Coffee Morning

Year 11 raise money for ABC

We’ve also had some really exciting curriculum developments for students with SLCN this term. We have introduced Lego Therapy sessions and the rapid improvements in joint attention, receptive and expressive language have been remarkable. The sessions are also huge fun for everyone involved!

We have introduced an auditory memory support programme that emphasises increased self-awareness of alternative strategies to support memory. We have also trialled The Communication Trust’s Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tools for ages 11-12 and 13-14, and were hugely impressed with their user-friendliness and their practical application to the curriculum. We are very excited about incorporating use of these Progression Tools into our practice in the New Year.

Further plans for 2015 include increased collaborative working between the SLCN teacher and the Science Faculty, focusing on differentiation for y8 students with SLCN.

Being awarded the Shine a Light Secondary School of the Year award continues to motivate us to develop our practice and to share our experiences with others. We would encourage any setting with a commitment to SLCN provision to apply for one of these valuable awards next year.

Many thanks to Clare and all the students at PCS for sharing news of their outstanding activities. Look out for information on the Shine a Light 2015 in the new year.

Macmillan coffee morning

  • Who's talking about digital technology in psychology? A look at our first conference in York.

    When set the challenge of creating a Digital Technology in Psychology conference, my first response was excitement.

    It’s such a wide subject there’s bound to be lots to talk about – let’s get everyone involved…this however was closely followed by the thought, What if no one turns up? and Is technology as central as we like to think it is…?

    Lucky for me, people did submit papers on a range of topics and sign up to attend. So last week we held our first Digital Technology in Psychology conference at York University. We were delighted to welcome our keynote speaker, Dr Tom Manly co-author of the TEA and the new TEA-CH-2. Dr Manly’s talk looked at ‘What is attention?’ and explored the evolution of technology in delivering assessments. A first look at the exciting new TEA-Ch2 was also provided and we can certainly say the new space dog and alien were warmly received.

    This was followed by Sarah Kate Smith who led a fascinating discussion around Dementia and Assistive Technology; showing examples of how technological interventions can be used to promote conversations, social interaction and leisure activities. Introducing CIRCA, Sarah’s talk highlighted the importance of including feedback from individuals with dementia into the design and functionality plans of technology.

    Did you know that about 8% of people will experience problems with #PTSD that persist beyond 3 months? This was one of many areas highlighted during Sara Simblett’s talk, 'A systematic review of web-based technology to assist emotional adjustment and self-management of symptoms related to post-traumatic stress.' Here Sara looked at the different approaches that have been taken to studying the effectiveness of Interapy as a Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress via the Internet.

    After the break, Astrid Coxon generated lots of conversation and app sharing ideas with her talk on, 'The effectiveness of internet-based interventions for managing stress and anxiety in students in higher education: a systematic review'. Looking at some of the studies around web-based interventions and where the gaps currently exist. A conversation that then continued on twitter.

    'This Much!, This Feeling & Backdrop: The development of touch device procedures for the qualitative and quantitative assessment of children's positive and negative experiences', was an enlightening talk from David Glasgow. Exploring a number of different apps, the accompanying video’s showed a young boys interactions, and revealed how important additional information could be obtained to help shape understanding and care plans.

    Lola Oyelayo and Nick Reynolds, then joined us from Head London to run an exciting workshop on exploiting digital for dementia and depression. A session which pulled together many of the threads of conversation from the day. Beginning with a presentation the team highlighted some of the many issues that are affecting the development of technology in the psychology field including:

    • How will an increasingly digital literate population will affect how we provide support for individuals with #dementia in the future
    • How do we solve the problem of efficacy for #mentalhealth apps?

    I look forward the sharing the outcomes of these workshops in a later blog.

    As a first event, we were delighted to see the group so engaged in the topic, we’ll be sharing podcasts from many of the talks over the coming weeks, and so if you were unable to attend, you can sit back with cup of tea and catch up!

    I’m also pleased to see that the conversations are already continuing. Sarah Kate Smith will now be joining an exciting line up of presenters for Online Working Memory Week where Sarah will be presenting on ‘Exploiting touch screen tech to promote communication, social interaction & leisure activities with people living with dementia.’

    Thank you to all our presenters and delegates who helped to make this first event a success. Watch this space for plans for 2016.

    #WMLearn | #DigitalPsych15

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