The Level 1 Learning Programme allows for the process of collaboration across the post-primary school setting. Primarily, collaboration occurs between both special class teachers and the SNA. This teamwork allows for extensive planning, resource making and evidence gathering. To see the full benefits of collaboration, adequate planning time is necessary. The majority of teaching will take place in the base classroom for Tara but aspects of the programme also allows for collaboration across the whole school environment.
This collaboration can be seen between the special class and the relevant subject departments. The physical education teacher had the opportunity to engage in a full PLU while also linking in with the physical wellbeing element of the Personal care and wellbeing PLU. This ranged from group activities within the mainstream class to smaller group dance and yoga classes. The PLU The arts, along with related Communication, language and literacy aspects also allowed input from both the art teacher and the music teacher. When looking at elements from both Personal care and Being part of a community, the home economics teacher is also able to form a learning programme to promote independent living skills.
While there may be some aspects of the Level 1 Learning Programme that can be reinforced across some mainstream subjects, the actual teaching of such learning outcomes would require small-group settings with specific subject teachers or within the base special class. While linking learning outcomes to mainstream subjects is possible on paper, in reality this would not be feasible. Depending on the needs of the student, there is the possibility of completing aspects of the programme within a mainstream PE or art class but the majority of learning requires a smaller group setting.
The subject department teachers linked in with the special class teacher in terms of planning learning opportunities and strategies but also to compile evidence of learning. All evidence was stored in a portfolio. The possibility of gaining evidence from home was also used to consolidate the learning for Tara. This formed a sense of formative assessment through homework. Parents were informed through meetings or communicative journals about relevant learning outcomes and the possibilities of gathering evidence. Where the possibilities presented themselves parents observed learning outside the classroom and evidence was gathered and passed on to the teacher.
Tara enjoys being active and helping out in her environment. She loves interacting with others and responds really well to positive reinforcement. Tara also learns best through the process of modelling and with the use of visual structures. Based on these strengths as well as her interests, learning activities were developed to ensure her engagement and participation of the learning programme. For example, Tara would rely on Lámh signs for communication with others, social stories to understand her social surroundings and visual structures to assist her with transitions through her environment. Similarly, as Tara is very engaged with visual materials she is very motivated when working with an Ipad. The interaction with this ICT allows opportunities for the developing of communication, mathematical concepts and the engagement with different aspects of the arts. Due to ICT’s wide range of use and its interactive multi-sensory properties, it allows for a great deal of learning for Tara.
As Tara is primarily working along the Becoming fluent and Generalising progression pathways, it was also important to allow for a broad and balanced programme. Some learning outcomes within the L1LP allowed extension to suit Tara’s individual learning needs. Also in some instances, it was possible that a number of learning outcomes were referred to and used from the L2LP. Through differentiation, Tara can also complete the Level 2 short courses at an achievable level.
The Level 1 Learning Programme incorporates Tara’s inclusion to the wider community. This enables her to work towards a number of learning outcomes while developing her independent living skills. As part of the PLU Being part of a community, Tara can visit local facilities by going on shopping trips to the local supermarket, cinema trips, using buses and going to restaurants/cafes. The aquatics element in the PE PLU will also allow Tara to engage with the local swimming centre. Tara also takes part in jobs in her school allowing her to contribute to its community. Tara takes part in ‘Green-Schools’ with other students by ensuring our school and community is litter free. The TY Gaisce group also link with Tara’s class and run a range of activities once a week. The L1LP and L2LP short courses will also give Tara the opportunity to link up with the local garden centre, doctors, farm and vets, allowing for a further link with the community. As Tara takes part in therapeutic horse riding, her school has also linked in with the local stables and enabled her to take part in this activity as part of her curriculum in order to improve spatial awareness, concentration, balance, coordination, strength as well as social communication. This involves learning about caring for horses as part of her short course.