Friday, 15 July 2011

Supporting children with special educational needs in the cultural and heritage sector

It’s great to have a chance somewhat late in the day to reflect on a training course on engaging effectively with children with learning difficulties that I gave last week for Creating Capacity. The delegates were fantastic, and between them had very extensive experience of working with children and young people in museums, both local and national, archives, libraries and the cultural and heritage sector more widely. (Lovely to have Historic Royal Palaces represented.) We were able to explore the needs of children with learning disabilities in depth, and the barriers to access and learning that need to be overcome. The combination of the case studies that I had brought and the experiences of all the course members enabled us to identify the factors for successful activities and programmes. These came out as some of the most important:

•    partnership working
•    sensitive and non-patronising face-to-face communication
•    positive reinforcement and praise
•    simple language with no jargon
•    linking concepts to things children know and understand
•    active engagement
•    practical hands-on activities
•    multi-sensory approaches
•    activities that produce something tangible
•    flexibility
•    effective planning, monitoring and evaluation