Little Stories and ‘Big Pictures’ from St. Vincent’s School for Sensory Impairment, Liverpool. Writing on the focus of the eleven plus, A.S. Neil reflected that if we were to have an exam, ‘let us make it one for humour, sincerity, imagination, character’ but ‘where is the examiner who could test such qualities?’ In a similar way today, a myriad of directives and inspection criteria strive to channel education into measures and outcomes connected primarily to attainment in examinations. For those of us in special education settings, the value of generating that space where individual pupil strengths can flourish and outcomes can be measured in different ways lies at the heart of what we do, and know works. Simultaneously, it lies at the heart of our frustration in explaining such achievement (leading often to attainment) value to educational authorities. In this article we share a project with individual, yet international impact, and invite your thoughts and participation.
In September 2016, St. Vincent’s school for sensory Impairment in Liverpool brought together an event specifically to provide the individual strength engagement of pupils within a combination of cross curricular workshops linked by innovation, creativity, the generation of a comic and service to visually impaired (VI) communities across the world.
The global ‘coding dojo’ movement with Salesforce visited St. Vincent’s introducing VI children to computer coding workshops and gaming technologies https://vimeo.com/186291220/7664f0f8f5
This was all linked to a raft of exciting ideas designed to fire the imagination and showcase opportunities for VI pupils within the world of work (see Twitter @stvincentsL12). As part of the workshops, coding programmes were used to introduce a ‘drone’. Ideas were sought from the children as to how a drone could, for instance, fly medical supplies into remote areas. At the end of the day, colleagues from Liverpool John Moore’s University flew a real drone across the school, reinforcing a message that imagination and creative ideas can lead to real actions. The ‘coding’ workshops worked in synergy with the writing of a comic alongside former Marvel comic writer Tim Quinn. The comic itself has St. Vincent pupils as the ‘Fab 4000’ superheroes using their coding skills to operate a drone as a means to eradicate the ‘blackfly’ ; a major cause of sighloss across the developing world. The message of the comic is clear; together we can do something and have a real impact. Have a look at the comic at www.stvin.com in the ‘latest news area’ …would you like to be part of the story line? Please follow the development on twitter @stvincentsL12.
In turn, as the comic develops it will link into our ‘Sightbox’ and ‘Million I’ project. Here, we are asking One million people to support our ‘sightbox ‘initiative with a one pound donation. The signtbox is a physical box containing equipment needed for VI pupils to access sports and education in the regions where the ‘blackfly’ reigns. The box frames a tangible and measurable outcome for VI pupils where serving their VI brothers and sisters around the world presents employment opportunities for both . The first sightbox has gone to Pakistan, and the second is ready to be taken to Nepal in February. It is wonderful when a little story centred in love and support of one another, can actively engage with the ‘bigger picture’…. And how shall we measure all this? Other than by the words attributed to of St.Francis of Assisi, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words’ Perhaps you would like to join us on the Million I project? (See link below) I Invite ideas where we can work together for all our children.