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Putting the Special into Special Schools

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Storycises runs in many special schools across the UK. We have created the programme to make sure every child and class can join in, have fun with movement and feel included.

Not all children access Storycises in the same way – but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from the programme. Storycises are designed to encourage and raise levels of confidence and participation regardless of initial ability. Movements and stories are simple to adapt giving special schools suitable options to choose from.

Here are a couple of examples of how we have worked with SEN settings and students to integrate their physical wellbeing into their education:

Reception classes

To help the children in a reception class to access some of the movements we used the ‘Colours’ book - photocopied the pages and laminated them. As part of outside play we started with 4 of them on a board and then used these to engage the children as part of a ‘copy me’ game.

They were interested to look at the pictures, and certainly needed the movement modelled to them. Some needed help to get into the positions but in that fleeting moment they experienced something that they would not have chosen to do. We changed movements on the board each week, and then started to add movements so that we had 5 then 6 etc until we had the whole story.

We then expanded the game where children needed to move under, over the through simple obstacles to get to the board. The children I worked with really struggled to get onto hands and knees to crawl under the desk as many of them missed this stage of development. With repetition they started to expand their repertoire of movement skills and by coming back time and time again regularly through the week we were able to improve their skills in PE when moving over, under and through the PE equipment.

Jane Reynolds MCSP

Year 1 and 2

A video was created so that the class teacher could have the story running while she modelled and helped the children to try the movements. The children naturally split into 3 different groups.

  • 3 stood by the white board and watched – this is never discouraged, as we know from experience they will be taking in the activities and starting to form neural pathways in their brains about sequencing the movements. This is very much like injured athletes do, when they still go and watch training sessions or video clips of competitors.

  • 3 tried to join in – we never ‘correct’ movements - just as toddlers find their own way to do things, so do older children and they must be allowed to try, experiment and then repeat and refine the movements themselves.

  • 3 were around the edges – but of those three, one of them came back into the circle to do his favourite bit, before he went back to the edges. These children will have been listening and taking in the story, again we know from experience, that with constant exposure to familiar content and repetitions children such as these will join in, when they are ready – maybe a little bit at first but as their confidence grows, so will their interaction.

These children were all accessing the active story at their own level, praise was given and if they needed help (which was done without comment). The little boy who came in to access his favourite part accessed the programme at his level and had the potential to grow from there.

I was able to reassure the teacher that all children were benefiting from the programme in different ways and that it would take time for them to show improvement as they needed so much more repetition than peers.

Wendy Joy MCSP

PMLD class of teenagers

These young people had several story books that they were very fond of. I was able to adapt the books they enjoyed, to use the same foundation motor skills practice in the Storycises books. It was a great way of using something they were familiar with to add in practice of skills they needed.

Jane Reynolds MCSP

Hopefully these examples show some of the simple ways that Storycises can be adapted to use with SEN students. Additional equipment is not required, however in order for your students to access the stories even more easily, you may wish to add some total communication aids, which can be easily done.

Storycises also easily combine with work done by other therapists to reinforce and practice other skills e.g. Speech and Language - use of pictures, timetables, waiting, turn taking etc.

The children who go to special schools are beautifully diverse. They may present with physical difficulties, or speech and communication difficulties through to learning difficulties and everything in between. For example, children and young people who have a diagnosis of ASD or who are neurodiverse in other ways will often have co-existing conditions – they rarely stand alone. These young people when you break down their motor skills have gaps, immaturities or missing foundation motor skills which can make them look clumsy and uncoordinated.

It is important therefore to give these children more practice of foundation motor skills, especially ones that they have found difficult or simply haven’t practiced. If left to it, they will often only use movements they already know. If we ‘scaffold’ we can expand their range of motor skills and in providing repeated practice, ensure that they gain competence in these skills.

We want to give teams the skills and confidence to meet the individual abilities of each child and see pupils get daily opportunities to practice and build functional movements.

You can find out more about the products and assistance we can offer special schools here.

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