Last academic year, we attended a fantastic Inclusion 2020 Learning and Discovery festival so our children could experience different para sports and access inclusive opportunities and training ahead of the Paralympics in Tokyo. Our children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) were able to look at the Paralympic Torch, take part in a range of different activities and be in an environment that was perfect for their needs.
Empathy Week 2021 seems the perfect opportunity to share how we’re using the Inclusion 2020 Learning and Discovery festival resources to ensure our young people with SEND don’t face inequalities in access to high quality PE and sport – despite the challenges of lockdown.
Vital to keep young people with SEND active
Lockdown has been hard enough for schools across the country, but children with SEND face even more barriers to keeping active. With Youth Sport Trust research highlighting that Physical Education, sport and exercise helped 27% of young people feel better during the first lockdown, it’s vital for us to ensure we’re keeping our young people with SEND active throughout the third lockdown.
The tightening of national restrictions on school and daily life brought with it multiple obstacles for us to overcome as a school. The first was ensuring that children had access to a laptop or the internet while home learning. Once we overcame this barrier, we used Google Classroom to deliver the Learning and Discovery festival resources as part of our live PE lessons.
Thanks to the resources, our children have had the opportunity to take part in athletics through guided relays, seated volleyball, New Age Kurling and boccia. The children in school were able to take part with me using the correct equipment but thought about different ways they could adapt the activity or equipment to make each activity more inclusive.
Adapting lessons for face to face and at home learning
We pre-recorded the activities and posted them on the school Facebook page to ensure all children with SEND were able to take part in the activities if they were unable to join in with the live lessons. We also made sure that all activities could be adapted to meet the needs of the children at home, especially giving them suggestions on what equipment they could use or adapt. This has been a great way to promote the Paralympics and has inspired other children around the school to take part in many of the activities.
Through Inclusion 2020, we are lucky enough to have been able to train a Sports Ambassador who is a pupil at our school who understands and champions best practice for inclusive sport and PE. Our Sports Ambassador has helped us roll out the Inclusion 2020 Learning and Discovery Festival resources. They have been supporting the children with and without SEND in their class, offering a range of different activities at break and lunch time. The pack has been sent to children at home using our school networking tool so they can access it themselves.
We have also embedded inclusivity into our daily delivery of PE, encouraging all children to think about how they could adapt their activity to include a child who may have a disability. We couldn’t be happier to see our children understanding the values of empathy and inclusivity – characteristics that will help them be changemakers for the future.
Top tips from a Paralympian
Kate Grey is a Youth Sport Trust Athlete Mentor and former Paralympic swimmer. Kate has shared her top tips for making PE and sport at home inclusive, motivating and fun as Inclusion 2020’s Athlete Ambassador:
“I am incredibly passionate about providing fun and inclusive activities for young people of all abilities. Particularly during these difficult times, people with disabilities are more likely to be less active and isolated, so it has never been more important to inspire and educate young people about the power of inclusive sport that they can do anywhere and use throughout their lives.”
- Start simple – Ensure the activity or challenge is achievable to ensure participants are successful and gain confidence.
- Think STEP – To adapt an activity to suit different abilities, you can change the Space, Task, Equipment or People to make it easier or harder.
- Get creative – Taking part at home means you will have to adapt activities to make them work for your environment, so use what’s available around the house and think outside the box.
- Inclusion, Inclusion, Inclusion – Activities and challenges should be inclusive for all abilities, and sport and physical activity is always more fun with as many people as possible involved.
- Challenge yourself – Once you’ve been successful at an activity it’s time to take it to the next level, whether that’s trying to beat your best score or taking on a family member or friend.
Inclusion 2020 is the umbrella term for the Youth Sport Trust delivery of an initiative that sits within the Department for Education SEND Inclusion in PE, School Sport and Physical Activity grant. For more information about and to access the resources visit www.youthsporttrust.org/inclusion-2020