The Mobility and Independence Department
Exhall Grange is one of the few specialist schools within the country to provide this invaluable service. Within our school the mobility and independence department provide assessment and training for many of our students with a wide range of disabilities, starting in the Early Years Foundation Unit right through to Post 16. Training includes a progression of skills ranging from; early movement, body awareness and concept development, onto independent travel, money management, shopping and use of public transport.
Mobility instructors from Guide Dogs for the Blind provide specific training to our visually impaired students and our own Mobility Officer provides generic training with particular expertise in physical disability including wheelchair instruction.
Over the years the mobility department has forged close links with charities such as Wizz Kids and local organisations such as Warwickshire road safety. These many links continue to enrich and compliment the work of the mobility and independence department.
Within the school we have a fully equipped studio flat. There students are able to develop their life skills in this fully equipped area. Activities include; bed making, washing and ironing, cleaning and preparing drinks and snacks.
The Mobility Department seeks to underpin the aims and mission statement of the school “To develop independent and resourceful young people”.
In January 2011 Exhall Grange were vey pleased to welcome a new staff member onto their team. His name is Troy and he is a Labrador x Retriever. Troy has been given to the school by Guide Dogs and his official title is ‘Buddy Dog’.
Troy has already proved himself as a useful member of the school team. He goes into classes where children are able to use him as a focus for topic work, PHSE, English etc. It has been reported that having Troy in class has a calming effect on students and they work better when his is in the room. Each week students take a turn being Troy’s carer. Feeding, spending, grooming and exercise, teach students what is involved in caring for an animal as well as the responsibility of looking after someone.
For the visually impaired students at our school, Troy is proving very useful in preparing and assessing them for future guide dog ownership. He also gives them an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to have a guide dog.
All in all Troy is a very popular addition to the school. Many pupils who were nervous of dogs now consider him as their friend.
All pupils with a severe visual impairment are taught to read and write through the medium of Braille. A severe visual impairment ranges from having little or no sight to the ability to read print only in a large print size ie. arial point 36 minimum.
Pupils are introduced to Braille from about the age of four years (depending on their readiness to begin); however, formal teaching of Braille begins in the child’s Reception year using the traditional Perkins brailler. The lessons are delivered by a fully qualified teacher of the visually impaired and are then reinforced by the class teacher. This pattern continues throughout the primary department.
In the secondary department pupils are taught specialist codes, for example those required in the study of Maths, and greater emphasis is placed on both fluency and comprehension when reading texts. They read novels in Braille and complete all class work using their knowledge of the code.
All pupils receive one fifty-minute lesson of Braille per week. In addition to this, pupils are taught to use modern technology such as refreshable Braille displays and BrailleNotes which can be linked to laptop computers. They are also taught to acquire good key-boarding skills.