Lucy is a nursery nurse and SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) at Cornfields Day Nursery, in Huddersfield. The nursery was rated ‘good’ in its most recent Ofsted inspection. Following its inspection in 2016, the education watchdog singled out Cornfields’ work with children who have special needs for particular praise. It said: There are excellent systems for sharing information about children who have special educational needs or disability. As a result, individual programmes of learning support these children very well.
Staff give parents ideas of how to extend their children's learning at home and talk to them regularly regarding their child's progress. Parents speak highly of the nursery and of the support put in place to improve outcomes for their children.
Lucy attributes the nursery’s success with children who have special needs to Special iApps’ software. She explained: I was introduced to Special iApps’ software by a parent who has a child with Down Syndrome. She was already using Special Words with her child and, knowing we had two other youngsters with Down Syndrome, she made a point of meeting me to discuss how effective she had found the app.
We were looking for ways of using software to work with our children and as soon as I saw Special Words I knew it was what we had been seeking. The interface was colourful but simple, there were no visual distractions and the interface was really simple. I think I placed an order with Special iApps the same day – and we haven’t looked back since. The children loved it.
Within a few weeks of using Special Words the nursery placed a second order for Special Stories – the perfect companion app because it allows children to create their own narratives using words, pictures and sounds. The children take pictures while they are in nursery and we help them to create a story about what they did that day, explained Lucy. Then when they go home they can show their parents what they have been up to. Similarly, the children can use the software to create stories at home then bring them to nursery for discussion – it’s a great way to keep in touch.
And because the software uses the images and sounds the children pick it up really quickly. They love to create stories they can see and hear and when they bring them back to the nursery their friends can’t wait to see what they are up to.
Lucy puts Special iApps’ success down to the fact that company founders Colin and Beverley Dean are parents to William, who has Down Syndrome, autism and other physical problems, including duodenal atresia, Hirschsprung’s disease, hearing impairment and thyroid deficiency, which affect his speech and learning abilities. She explained: Because Colin and Beverley have William they know what works and what doesn’t. They are personally invested in every app they develop – and it’s reassuring to know that all their software is extensively tested by parents, teachers and children. It makes a massive difference.
Cornfields has 15 members of staff and cares for children from six months old to four-years-old. Since working with Special Stories, Lucy has enrolled on a training course to learn even more about the software. The course was run by Colin Dean who showed Lucy how to add words and photos to the apps; customisation which makes Special Words personal to every child who uses it. Lucy in turn passed her newly acquired knowledge on to other staff at the nursery. I’d highly recommend Special iApps to anyone, she added. It’s an invaluable tool for parents, teachers and healthcare professionals.