During World Autism Awareness Week, Education For Everybody looks at a teacher training route which has been designed specifically for student teachers who want to work in SEND schools, and features on a core unit on autism.
We spoke to Dr Lyn Trodd, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Hertfordshire, about the BA (Hons) in Education Studies with Special Educational Needs and Disability, which is now in its third year.
Dr Trodd said of the degree course, “It is increasing in size each year. Last year 21 new starters had indicated that they would specialise in SEND. The core module in autism covers the nature of autism, including strategies to support children and adults with autism and the place of autism in modern society. There are inputs from adults and children with autism as well as parents. The module hears talks from support workers here in the University of Hertfordshire as well as the team who developed Kaspar, the robot designed to assist children with autism.”
Kaspar is a child-sized humanoid robot designed as a social companion to improve the lives of children with communication difficulties (see the video below). By interacting and behaving in a child-like way, Kaspar helps teachers and parents support children to overcome the challenges they face in socialising and communicating with others.
Dr Trodd added that The Eastern Partnership, a unique partnership of SEN leads across the region which began 18 years ago, is continuing to work in collaboration with Local Authorities on SEN issues, adding, “The University validates and quality assures the SENCo Awards it offers and participants have the opportunity to use their awards to achieve a Masters if they complete a research project into SEND. The SENCo Award is very well respected."
For more information on the BA (Hons) in Education Studies with Special Educational Needs and Disability, see herts.ac.uk