The Harbour offsite learning
Children within the Harbour access learning in many practical forms, such as accessing offsite learning each week as part of their curriculum. The focus for offsite learning is based on the children’s key stage half termly class topic, as well as linking into their IEP targets. If a child has an IEP target to recognise coins and use these to purchase items in their environment, the child will be set a target during an offsite learning session where they will experience purchasing items in a range of settings such as the supermarket, local markets, post office etc., using a range of coins and notes. Children will apply problem solving skills and purchase a range of items for their snack, lunch for class projects etc., so the learning experience is functional for the child.
One parent commented on her child’s experience at parent’s evening- “I am soo pleased with my son’s progress. I took him shopping last week and he was able to show me where to find all the items on the list independently. My son then showed me how to scan the items on the self-check-out. I never thought my son would be teaching me how to do so much independently!”
Children also have the opportunity to generalise what they have learnt at school in Speech and Language groups in the wider community. Several of the children are PECS’s users (Picture Exchange Communication System). Using this communication system is integrated into their daily timetable at school. However, this can become familiar to children, so to move children on they need to be able to generalise this skill in a range of situations. Children take their PECS folders with them when they visit the local supermarket. At the Café at the supermarket children who are non-verbal or have minimal speech use their PECS sentence strips to communicate in a functional way. They use this to initiate and extend their verbal and non-verbal communication with others within the community. This develops confidence and independence for the children and teaches them skills they will use functionally in life now and as an adult.
Children also have the opportunity to experience public transport during their weekly offsite learning. To get to many of the destinations visited children travel by public bus, train, DLR, ferry or tube. Children are shown practically how to travel safely, as well as modelled the expected social behaviours within these environments. Children also get the opportunity to independently purchase train tickets, top up Oyster Cards and also use Oyster cards for the journey which is an invaluable life skill. At parents evening a child’s Mum and Dad said- “We were very surprised in the holidays when …. got on a public bus with us and was able to cope well with this. Previously we couldn’t get him to go on a bus easily. …. was able to show us how to press the button if we wanted to get off at the stop. ….. was also able to walk up to the top floor of the bus which we never thought he could do as he has some motor difficulties. This has opened up many opportunities for us as a family.”