Mary Oliver from MENCAP Cymru undertook an ILO placement this year to tackle the problem of educational provision for learners with additional learning needs......a HUGE undertaking! But a HUGELY successful one. Here are some highlights:
Holy Trinity Primary School, Quthing
During the first week I have been observing the children with SEN in the classrooms taking numbers and types of disabilities and then having a teachers meeting to discuss their problems with the SEN pupils. Most focus on what the pupils cannot do not what the child can do. I have looked at tips and various strategies at those meetings for those individual children and the importance of assessment and referral
Parents workshops have been fantastic the parents have been so open about their children with special needs
The second week it has been the same schools with workshops for the parents of the SEN pupils they were asked to bring the health booklets with them so we could see the problems the children had. The Chief and the Board were also invited to these
The workshops were around working with parents and teachers together re IEPs for continuity at school and home. On these second visits I am pleased that the IEPS process has been started by the teachers
Teachers workshop on how to write Individual Education Plans
Holy Infants Quthing the first wheelchair user I have seen it was a lovely class
Today I met this pupil who is still in the primary school grade 5 at the age of 33
The Royal Palace car took me to Leribe for a work shop on Autism which HM The Queen of Lesotho had commanded me to do for her. I also had s long chat with Prince Seesio at the Royal Palace it was a very impressive building
Overall I had a wonderful time in Quthing. My programme consisted of teacher workshops, identifying SEN within schools, parents meetings of pupils with SEN, in order for them to work with schools and training teacher workshops. I targeted 30 schools, and held workshops on 4 Saturdays for 60 teachers, in addition to the individual schools workshops on identification, individual education plans, differentiation, and autism. On my visists to schools, I undertook 371 base line assessments on SEN pupils and the gave the teachers tips and strategies in order for them to be able to access the curriculum. I have given my reports to the Director of Special Educational Needs at the Ministry in Maseru. I have copies of these which I will present to Veronica and Sharon at my debriefing session. The main outcome which is needed to take this work further is a booklet on how to write individual education plans. The Ministry tell the schools they have to do this but there is no information anywhere that tells them how. With the agreement of the Director of Special Educational Needs in Maseru and Veronica I have started to write a booklet on the subject which I intend to finish by the end of the month. Veronica has stated that she may have money to print this just for the 30 schools initially as a pilot in order for these SEN pupils to make progress.
Having been to Lesotho a few times previously, and being a retired SEN professional I felt I had the skills and experiences needed to undertake this exciting project and this certainly proved the case. Living on my own was not a problem, indeed it was a bonus as I could write up my reports every night. Being of mature age was also a bonus as I felt respected wherever I went and the Senior Education Officer at Ministry of Education went out his way to be helpful. I felt that Special Educational needs has really begun to be recognised in the short time I was there as I was beginning to see results of my workshops in the schools just beforeI left.