Engaging educational environments

Written by The Children's Trust TadworthDate 17 Apr 2012

Ben is a residential pupil at The School for Profound Education.

Ben_3_contentListening to his class wishing him good morning brings a big smile to ten year old Ben's face. Although he cannot say hello back, his expression says it all. The Profound Education Curriculum has helped Ben come a long way since he joined the school five years ago. Back then he took little interest in the world around him and was unable even to acknowledge his classmates.

Ben was born with Goldenhar syndrome, a rare condition where one side of his face is underdeveloped. He has limited sight and hearing and profound and multiple learning difficulties. Ben requires a tracheostomy to breathe and needs regular operations to help correct the curvature of his spine as he grows.

But this does not stop Ben from being an active member of Class 1, where his special support carer Josephine (pictured) helps him access the curriculum. "We have been assisting Ben to develop his response skills using familiar cues and music. The day he reacted for the first time I cried," remembers Josephine. "He responds well to touch cues, which help us communicate to him what he will be doing next," she explains. "He certainly makes sure we know if it's something he doesn't like!"

Josephine works closely with Ben's teacher, the school's therapy team and the care staff on his residential house to make sure Ben is getting the most out of the curriculum and is working towards his objectives, whilst keeping safe and well. "Ben can move his hands slightly so he has learnt to use a hand operated switch, meaning he can be fully involved in whatever activity we are doing. He has even used it to operate a blender to make a smoothie," Josephine explains. "Like any ten year old boy he especially loves anything noisy or messy!"

The social element of the curriculum is one that Ben has been working especially hard at. "Ben's greatest achievement is his social awareness. It has opened up his learning," explains his teacher Alison. "The curriculum has been designed in such a way that it encompasses everything Ben does, allowing us to celebrate and build upon even tiny steps - progress which other curriculums wouldn't have shown".

Josephine says the curriculum is helping Ben to continue developing his independence and encouraging him to get involved in all the activities the school has to offer:

Whether it's working in class, wheelchair dancing or hydrotherapy sessions, one thing is certain - we're always on the go.

This story has been reproduced from The Children's Trust Tadworth website with kind permission.