Visual audiobooks helping Newham children with special educational needs learn from home

Royal Docks Academy pupil Moeez Nawaz watching a video audiobook with his siblings. Picture: RDA

Royal Docks Academy pupil Moeez Nawaz watching a video audiobook with his siblings. Picture: RDA - Credit: Archant

A resource devised by a Custom House school to help children with special educational needs learn from home is being shared across the borough.

Highly trained teachers and support staff from the profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) unit at Royals Docks Academy having been finding new ways to support their pupils remotely during lockdown.

Most of their 26 pupils have stayed home during the coronavirus pandemic due to health conditions.

One of their ideas - personalised “video audiobooks” - has been so well received the council is sharing it with families at other schools for children with any level of special educational needs, not just PMLD.

Head of the PMLD unit Zama Shozi said: “We take photos of everything our students do at school as evidence of their learning and progress.

“We decided to use these images during lockdown to create our own personalised video audiobooks to help parents to continue reading with the children at home.

“You cannot find these kinds of books online. Our children are familiar with certain words, symbols and actions, which we have incorporated into our original online books.

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“We have also used images of them in character, so they can relate to the stories being told; it is also a way of letting them see the faces of their teachers and friends who they are missing.”

Online books cover the stories of Romeo and Juliet, Desmond, Dracula and Rainforest and include worksheets for families to complete at home.

Mrs Shozi said: “We are giving parents access to tools they would not otherwise have, as we are using a specialist programme to produce the books.

“Our students cannot read, but they can associate with a picture or symbols which come up as the audiobook is played.

“It enables them to continue with the work they do in school in their home environment.”

Mrs Shozi added parents were learning more about what their children are capable of through the activities they are being set.

One parent, Shah Nawaz, said of son Moeez: “He is busy and happy with his siblings.

“The change in Moeez we’ve noticed is that he is vocalising more with parents as he is spending more time with us during lockdown.”

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