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Nature could be key to special educational needs

10/05/2016 Joanna

Incorporating nature into education could be particularly beneficial to students with special educational needs (SEN), a fact that has been highlighted through innovative teaching methods developed by schools.

Of the pupils at Sulivan Primary School in Fulham, London, 30 per cent have SEN. This has led to the teachers looking at different ways of delivering the curriculum that could better benefit these students.

As such, the school has developed a "reading forest" for its youngest students. Emily Genochio, year two teacher and inclusion manager at the school, stated: "We are always looking at innovative ideas to engage all pupils and children with SEN sometimes need more active, out-of-the-box ideas. Reading outdoors is enjoyable, stress-relieving and calming for pupils."

This programme has proved extremely successful, with the school reporting that pupils with SEN are now much more eager to participate in reading - an activity which many of them usually struggle with.

In addition, it has provided a new opportunity for them to develop life skills. "Our children with SEN benefit from how the outdoors relieves stress and anxiety, develops social skills, motivates learning across the curriculum (and beyond) and allows them to be practical, responsible and productive members of the community," Ms Genochio stated.

Other schools have also adopted this approach, reporting that it has allowed SEN students to gain independence.

Andrew Colley, lecturer in special education at the Cass School of Education and Communities at the University of East London, said: "Giving SEN students that feeling of space, and the sensory stimulation that comes with being outdoors, is absolutely vital."

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