IncluTech by Beech Academy
Removing Barriers to Learning
As a special school we are aware that all of our pupils experience sensory differences, and these can have a significant impact on our ability to effectively teach and learn. We also know that some of the teachers have Neurodifferences, like Miss Coleman Jones who is autistic.
Team: Nurture 2 at Beech Academy
Team membersEthan, Josh, Leland, Megan, Owen, Sienna, Mrs Foster, and Miss Coleman Jones
Members roles and background
Ethan, Josh, Leland, Megan, Owen, Sienna - Students at Beech Academy (special school)
Mrs Foster - Learning Assistant
Miss Coleman Jones - Specialist Teacher (also autistic!)
The Nurture class at Beech Academy found a way that would support those people that feel sensitive to noise, background noise in particular. We created a headset, that also acted as a pair of ear defenders, a product that already exists to cancel out background noise. However, these headphones would allow each pupil to hear the teacher, and each other, with a built-in mic. The teacher would use an app to:
Quickly, and easily, pair up the numbered headset with the name of the pupil in the group.
- Control the mics of each headset; turning all off, all on, or selected individual headsets.
Pupils would be able to use different controls on the headset to:
- Adjust the volume
- Request the mic to be switched on (to contribute, or to answer a question)
- Request discrete support from a learning assistant
The class worked together to come up with the design, name, and Logo for the product. At Beech Academy, inclusivity is held as one of five core values. As the class were designing a piece of technology, 1 pupil suggested the name 'IncluTech', which was agreed on by the rest of the team.
Sensory experiences can significantly impact our ability to stay well regulated, focus, and learn effectively. For teachers, it can have an impact on their ability to teach and support others effectively.
However, it is near impossible to cancel out all background noises in real life.
The projector hums, the wind blows at the windows, our friend in the neighbouring seat likes to gently rock to stay engaged in listening. By using the headsets for the core teaching content of the lesson, we can be inclusive of our friend who is self regulating and block out those other low level noises that can really irritate us, heighten our anxieties, and distract us from fully engaging in learning.
Please hear our voices on our Chatta boards: https://share.chattalearning.com/Y3VzdG9tZXJzL2FlYWE5YTA1YjNkMzQ5MjM5OGYzL3VzZXJzL2ZmZGNmMjEwYmQ5NjQ5Mjc5YzZmL2dyb3Vwcy9uRlkxZUl6OFcwdTNVZnZOY2V4aC9jaGF0cy9GeGFFS0twWUJ5VFR6VG0wUEVrcw==?signature=19f4f1766c6372e229972bc5052358cd065a745b35652a683d503be8563bc404
Solution target group
So many people can benefit from this solution.
Even in mainstream schools, where classrooms are so busy and noisy with 30 children in a class. We know that so many pupils with SEN, attending both special and mainstream schools, struggle to participate in assemblies because their sensory experience of it is so overwhelming. This can feel very isolating to pupils who are excluded from these types of activities, because there is currently no way for them to join without suffering from sensory overload.
If our solution was available to schools, thousands of children would be able to take part in more class and whole school activities, feeling less axious as well as being able to contribute and be heard. Pupils will have greater memory recall of new learning, and be able to self regulate in ways that might otherwise have been distracting during discussions (low level noises such as figeting, moving on wobble cushions, gently rocking).
Solution tweet textIncluTech puts inclusivity at the heart of teaching and learning.
Our soluton is different, because it brings together different ideas (tourist headsets, ear defenders, air buds) that are already out there and creates an approach that would really have an impact on millions of people in the noisy world that we live in. Ear defenders are widely purchased and used in education, and inspired the idea of having a headset that doubles up to cancel out background noise. The idea to connect headsets to a teacher-controlled iPad is innovative because those pupils who ordinarily struggle to request help (for fear of standing out) can do so discretely. Pupils with hearing difficulties could have an iPad which translated the speaker into text / symbol-supported text form.
This solution is highly transferable to all types of activities where a group of people need to listen and share ideas. Background noise would be eliminated, and when pupils speak, their voice is immediately amplified into others headsets so there would be no contributions missed.
Our teachers know people that are app and tech developers, and in the short term would create the app and tech needed to trial at our school and across the trust (3 schools).
We would measure the impact and look to share our findings with the education community.
Solution team work
The class worked incredibly well as a team, sharing personal experiences and listening to others. The staff team are also very keen to see how they can bring the pupils' idea to life, as they feel that our local community in Mansfield (a significantly deprived area of the country) would benefit from some recognition for innovation.
Even without winning, the pupils have never before entered a competition like this. Taking part has given us opportunities to talk openly about our experiences and how we can help each other to create a better class / school / world! Thank you so much for giving our pupils a voice on a global platform. They are now seen as role models and ambassadors by other pupils in the school.
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