A number of staff from Highland attended a SEED funded day organised by the CALL Centre, Edinburgh University to look at materials to help in the assessment of children with severe and complex additional support needs.
For me, the materials seem to supply a language of common understanding for those working with children whose needs have proven difficult to assess and articulate. I can immediately think of a number of pupils and supporting staff for whom this pack could provide a valuable focus on key issues for individuals’ development.
Sally Millar (Joint Co-ordinator of The CALL Centre) summarises:
There has always been a shortage of good materials to support assessment and meaningful target setting, for children with severe and complex additional support needs. Routes for Learning, an excellent new pack of assessment materials has recently been produced by a team of practitioners and researchers, with support from the Welsh Assembly Government. The pack was introduced to a Scottish audience on 23rd February at an Edinburgh Study Day organized by the CALL Centre. Jessie Wojciechowski from the Scottish Executive Education Department put the day into the context of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence before handing over to Dr Verity Donnelly and Pauline Loftus to cover the assessment materials in detail.Highlighting the core importance of communicative interaction and basic cognitive milestones, Routes for Learning recognizes that children do not necessarily follow a set developmental path. The assessment materials provide a flexible ‘routemap’ helping the practitioner to plot the child’s level in relation to a set of key behaviours starting from the very basic “Notices stimuli” and “Reacts to close contact with a familiar adult” and moving through 43 stages to reach “Early problem solving” and “Initiates Actions to achieve desired result (exerting autonomy in variety of contexts)” at the higher developmental level. The various developmental stages are described in detail in the assessment materials and the pack also contains a DVD with video clips that clearly illustrate child behaviours exemplifying achievement of different stages on the Routemap. The Routes for Learning materials are being piloted in Wales with considerable success and there was a general feeling at the CALL Study Day in February that much could be gained by trying to introduce them into use in Scotland.
“You can’t overstate the importance of communication. Without it you can’t interact, without interaction you can’t have a relationship and without a relationship I don’t think you can have a life of any sort.” (Anon.)