Hillingdon Manor School in Slough, is enhancing learning opportunities for its autistic children and young people with the introduction of a new immersive classroom – the latest digital learning innovation in which pupils explore and engage with an interactive virtual environment in a three dimensional space.
The school, part of Options Autism, located across three beautiful, state-of-the-art sites, provides education from early years up to secondary, and offers a unique mix of education and support to pupils within a wide spectrum of needs and abilities, helping them to achieve their full potential.
Commenting on the high-tech addition to the school’s facilities, Hillingdon Manor’s Executive Headteacher, Lorna Davies-Bailey, said: “Our new immersive classroom offers an incredible choice of digital multi-sensory experiences for our pupils – we can take a trip on an aeroplane, visit a museum, explore the deep sea or even swim with dolphins – all in the course of a school day.
“The new room is extremely versatile. It features high definition (HD) projection on the walls and floor, with sound and movement, and provides experiences which are inclusive for all. Pupils enter a virtual environment where they can interact through touch, sight and sound.
“Unlike virtual reality simulations, there are no headsets involved, which would be challenging to use or disorientating for some of our children. The teachers, teaching assistants and children can interact directly with each other – it’s a totally collaborative experience for everyone.
“As well as engaging the children in amazing expansive learning experiences, we can also introduce them to new situations which may be daunting to them in the real world, from the comfort and safety of school. They can become accustomed to the sights and sounds that are part of everyday life, but may be disturbing to an autistic child, for example, taking a ride on public transport or a trip to the supermarket – this exposure is great preparation for building skills for later life.
‘The new immersive classroom allows teachers to take the children beyond the school walls, to places and experiences that they may not otherwise ordinarily encounter, in an environment where they feel safe.”
Hillingdon Manor School, is just one of the special schools in Outcomes First Group’s (OFG’s) nationwide network to benefit from this latest immersive technology. Commenting on the new facilities, Rebecca Lawton, Director of Education Practice and Standards, OFG, said, “Innovation and creativity are at the heart of OFG’s continual progression and development of provision for our pupils. We embrace the incredible pace of technological development we are witnessing, and the ever increasing opportunities for teaching and learning that it brings. We want to ensure we are at the forefront, utilising every available option to enhance our students’ experiences.
“Other innovations we are currently implementing in schools include the use of the latest AI technology with QTRobot, a fun and engaging interactive robot which helps increase attention and reduce anxiety, improving learning outcomes for autistic children and the development of socially empowering life skills. These technologies provide additional support alongside our incredible teachers, teaching assistants and clinical staff, to provide the best education for our pupils.”