Inclusive Stories with St John’s Primary School.

Impact and Effectiveness of Inclusive Stories at St John’s Primary School in the Isle of Man.

Introduction: Nurturing Inclusivity at St John's Primary School, Isle of Man.

At St. Johns Primary School in the Isle of Man, inclusivity is deeply ingrained in the school's ethos and vision. About 20 years ago, the school relocated to a new site that included a Specialist Provision Centre (SPC). They have proudly earned the Inclusive School Award (IOM) for three consecutive years, with plans to reapply next year. The SPC follows a multi-sensory approach tailored to each individual child’s cognitive, medical, sensory, physical and social needs. The children in the SPC have access to individualised provision to support their teaching and learning to support lifelong learning. Tracy Willoughby, the Head Teacher, emphasises the importance of every child being an integral part of St. John’s, actively involving children from the specialist provision in various activities based on their individual needs and preferences.

Introduction Nurturing Inclusivity SJ

The Story of St John's Primary School and Special Education Provisions on the Isle of Man.

At St. John’s Primary School, the dedicated staff are committed to fostering a culture of inspiration, collaboration and promotion of individual growth. They cultivate a secure and inclusive environment where strong relationships flourish and partnerships thrive, developing mutual respect among all members. They encourage students to become inquisitive and independent learners, fostering positive self-esteem. Through engaging in real-life learning experiences, the children at St. John’s Primary School emerge as confident individuals, happy and prepared to embrace challenges. The school has undergone significant expansion, particularly in its Specialist Provision Centre (SPC), to accommodate a broader spectrum of learners. The SPCs at St. John’s cater to children with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) and severe learning difficulties (SLD), which provide specialised provisions for those requiring eye gaze. This integration seamlessly places them into the mainstream school environment. Caryl Anstead, the SEN adviser for disabilities, sheds light on the special education provisions running in the Isle of Man. There are ten primary and six secondary SPCs, alongside a post-16 to 18 Complex Needs Centre situated at University College Isle of Man. These provisions are tailored to address the unique needs and complexities of individual learners, providing a personalised, child-centred and relevant learning experience. The focus is on developing communication, cognitive, physical, self-help and independence skills, while promoting psychological well-being.

The Story Of St Johns

The Challenge Before Inclusive Stories.

Addressing the complex needs of children with diverse learning requirements within the Specialist Provision Centre (SPC) poses a challenge when searching for software programs that comprehensively cater to medical, physical, emotional and social needs. It’s especially challenging when designing group activities. This pursuit of inclusive software aligns with St. John’s Primary School's commitment to fostering an environment where every child is not only included but also provided with tools that empower their individual growth. As the school continues to navigate the evolving landscape of inclusive education, the careful selection and integration of technology become pivotal in ensuring that each child's learning journey is tailored to maximize their potential and promote a sense of belonging within the school community.

The Challenge Before Inclusive Stories

Why St John’s Chose Inclusive Stories.

In exploring the decision-making process behind selecting Inclusive Stories for integration into the educational framework at St. John’s Primary School, SPC Manager Lauren Callow shed light on the discovery and subsequent adoption of the program. Lauren’s journey began while utilising the HelpKidzLearn programs, particularly the Games & Activities and Insight software, which they use frequently. Lauren came across Inclusive Stories and was immediately intrigued. Recognising the need for a solution that could cater to the unique requirements of her students, Lauren sought advice from a colleague in the UK who had previously found Inclusive Stories to be highly beneficial. The colleague emphasised the program's unparalleled accessibility features and highlighted the extensive bank of resources and suggestions that accompanied it. This comprehensive support system, encompassing both content and guidance, significantly contributed to the decision to incorporate Inclusive Stories into the educational toolkit at St. John’s Specialist Provision Centre.

Laura Callow
The program's rich resources, coupled with its user-friendly accessibility, not only align with the inclusive ethos of St. John’s but also contribute to making learning experiences come alive for students with diverse learning needs. The decision to choose Inclusive Stories reflects the school's commitment to providing a holistic and tailored educational approach that fosters engagement, participation and overall growth for every student within the Specialist Provision Centre.
Laura Callow
Lauren Callow
SPC Manager

The Impact shows from the smiles of children’s faces.

Reflecting on the impact of incorporating Inclusive Stories into the school, both Lauren and Fran French - Senior Education Officer (SESO) enjoyed the extensive number of stories available within Inclusive Stories, emphasising the abundance of accompanying resources and symbol ideas. Both Lauren and Fran expressed their observations on the positive response of the children, particularly noting the success of sensory stories in capturing the students' attention. Fran shared “We have so many magical moments with our children when using the HelpKidzLearn software – they happen daily. We often get responses we’ve never experienced before such as a smile, look or movement, so we know the students are really engaged and enjoying using it.” Lauren continued by adding “They’re so engaged in the activities and the children love exploring the sensory props that go alongside each story.” The multisensory approach employed in the stories, engaging all five senses, was recognised as a significant benefit for all children. They highlighted how, for visually impaired children, the incorporation of auditory, tactile, taste and smell elements allows them to experience and interact with the suggested resources alongside the stories, fostering a more inclusive and enriching learning environment. A notable feature highlighted by both educators was the seamless integration of Inclusive Stories with ChooseIt Maker – another software program offered by HelpKidzLearn. They liked how Inclusive Stories provided game codes to use within ChooseIt Maker to help align ChooseIt Maker activities with the relevant stories. This feature enhances efficiency and ensures a cohesive learning experience for the students.

Helping Teachers make in a difference in how they teach.

At St. John’s Primary School, a proactive approach to incorporating technology that benefits children in the Specialist Provision Centre (SPC) is evident. Staff members appreciate the user-friendly nature of Inclusive Stories, finding that they create a delightful atmosphere in the classroom with active involvement from everyone. The simplicity of the stories allows any staff member to use the provided script and ideas for a sensory approach. Lauren highlighted the program's accessibility and flexibility, enabling easy adaptation of activities. This adaptability promotes independence among the children, initially supported by a staff member setting up the program for access via eye gaze or switches. Once set up, the children can independently navigate through the stories, fostering engagement and positive responses. The animated visual components of the stories, combined with suggested resources and symbols, serve to reinforce language and captivate the children's interest. The flexibility of Inclusive Stories in catering to diverse learning needs, including eye gaze, touch and switch access, allows for seamless integration into the mainstream part of the school. This integration provides an opportunity for children from the mainstream part of the school to join SPC activities, fostering a positive and inclusive environment. Lauren emphasised the utility of assessment and recording sheets attached to each story, facilitating both group and individual assessments. Both Lauren and Fran praised the user-friendly nature of these forms. Through repeated exposure to stories on a given topic, staff have observed that children begin to anticipate the next part, particularly when incorporating sensory elements. Inclusive Stories offers a diverse range of stories that seamlessly integrate into various topics at St. John’s. Lauren shared how “Inclusive Stories provides a range of different stories that we can use so it fits in with the curriculum or any topics – for example, we had a recent pirates themed topic where we used ‘Millie Mermaid and the Skeleton Crew’ and the children all loved it. We all enjoyed dressing up as skeletons and pirates to create an immersive learning experience.”

Fran French
We have so many magical moments with our children when using the HelpKidzLearn software – they happen daily. We often get responses we’ve never experienced before such as a smile, look or movement, so we know the students are really engaged and enjoying using it.
Fran French
Fran French
Senior Education Officer (SESO)

It’s not just a tool – but an experience…

Accessing HelpKidzLearn within St. John's Specialist Provision Centre has proven instrumental in enriching various areas of the curriculum, effectively meeting the diverse needs of all the children under their care. Lauren and Fran succinctly described HelpKidzLearn as not just a tool but an experience—an accessible, engaging and fun resource that has become an integral part of the educational journey at St. John’s. Fran shared insightful reflections on the daily experiences within the sensory stories, emphasising the occurrence of magical moments that unfold regularly. These moments often manifest as unique responses, such as a smile or a look, adding a layer of joy and discovery to the learning environment. Both Lauren and Fran reiterated the consistent engagement of the children with the stories and their genuine enthusiasm for exploring the sensory props that accompany these narratives. The staff, attuned to the individualised communication styles of each child, find immense value in observing and understanding how the children respond to the stories, recognising that every smile, look or movement communicates a distinct message.

Its Not Just A Tool

Empowering children to learn.

In essence, the implementation of HelpKidzLearn and Inclusive Stories reflects a commitment to providing choices that empower children to learn in ways that suit their unique needs and abilities. Through this transformative approach, St. John’s Primary School embraces the diversity within its student body, creating an inclusive and dynamic educational environment that fosters growth, engagement and joy in learning.

Empowering Children To Learn

If you’d like to see what Inclusive Stories can do in your school, why not sign-up for a FREE trial.

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