Welcome to my posts for the A to Z Challenge 2016.
This year, I am posting
Special School Stories
tales from either my time as a teacher or teaching assistant within classrooms in the U.K. or from my own school days growing up around the country.
One of the things I am most proud of, during my time acting as a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator in a mainstream primary school, (and one I know followers of my blog have heard about before) is getting swimming lessons in a nearby Special School’s hydrotherapy pool for some of my pupils for free! My school had to pay for the taxi to take them but the Special School allowed access to their pool for free and an authority occupational therapist with specialist swimming teacher skills was also able to allocate hours to this initiative meaning my school did not incur costs for her time either.
The benefits to the children were immense during these sessions. The warm water of the pool allowed them to stretch out their bodies much more than they could ever do in the classroom or at home. The teaching of swimming was not only an enjoyable activity but it also improved their muscle strength and the warmth also relaxed muscle chords in their throats allowing much better speech after the session too. The ability to take part in swimming was also great for them - they did not miss out on the opportunity that the rest of their class had when they went to the local swimming baths for lessons,
The hydrotherapy pool had a walk in shelf that meant the children could get in and out of the pool much easier than trying to navigate steps or use a pool hoist. The changing rooms also had a great deal more space which was essential when helping with dressing and undressing.
The arrangement came about when it became clear that some children would be unable to take part in swimming at the local baths due to the nature of their disabilities. The extra time needed for changing and the small space provided plus the great difficulty getting in and out of the pool would mean the children would have about ten minutes in the pool if that. So I decided to do something different and phoned the local Special School which had a pool on site and explained my problem. They offered the use of their pool for an hour and a half (at a time when they would not be needing it) for free as it would not increase any costs to themselves. I then rang the O.T. that I knew well (who had worked with the children before and also worked with other SEN children in other schools) and told her of my plight but that I had secured the hydrotherapy pool so if she had other children who might benefit then they would be welcome too. She was delighted at this and could therefore make it a session where she could teach swimming and would be able to do this without costs for any one school.
To my knowledge, these swimming sessions continue to this day benefiting not only my former school's pupils but others in the area too.
So now it's your turn to tell me about your experiences of swimming at school - did you love it or loathe it? Did you have access to a swimming pool in your own school or did you have to travel somewhere? Did you get the opportunity at all? Leave a comment below and let me know :)