Tablets working well for special needs learning


A Jewish special needs school is seeking donations of tablet computers to enable disabled children to benefit from apps which can revolutionise teaching.

Aim Habonim in Salford has begun using specially designed speech therapy apps which operate on iPads. It can cost up to £200 for a package designed to develop speech, language and awareness skills tailored to the needs of each child.

Speech therapist Kate Dartnall says the school needs three more iPads to add to the two being used, “which allow me to teach cognitive and physical movement skills”.

Over 20 special needs children are integrated with 18 mainstream youngsters as part of an advanced therapy programme for children as young as six months — years before the NHS will fund support. Four of the special needs pupils will be transferring to mainstream schooling next term as a result of their progress at the private school.

The next major project is planning a secondary school at its new premises, a disused library donated by Salford City Council. Around £90,000 has been raised to revamp the building to include five classrooms, a sensory room and “high needs” space, complete with hoists, touchscreen and bathroom facilities.

Ceiling-mounted swings are also part of an occupational therapy gym. Aim Habonim was previously crammed into a modified office suite. However, it now requires portakabin classrooms to be installed on the new site to accommodate older pupils.

Although the school was set up to help the strictly Orthodox, founder Dovid Leaman reported increased demand from the wider Jewish population. “There are other children who cannot find suitable schooling,” Mr Leaman explained.

“We accept any disabled Jewish child whatever their religious or non-religious background.”

The school has been granted planning permission for a specialist playground with swings and equipment for disabled children, which Mr Leaman wants to make available to the entire community.

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