History of SPEC in Bethlehem College
After becoming increasingly frustrated with the need to majorly adapt class topics to the level of our Special Needs students, I was given permission to investigate the SPEC programme towards the end of 2013. I attended a verification meeting as a guest, to see what SPEC offered. I also visited Aquinas College to see the programme running and was very impressed.
Following this, I was encouraged for 2014 to trial the Headway modules with a student who is on the Autistic Spectrum. He has severe learning disabilities so does not read or write. (He was 15 at this time). He completed 4 modules over the year and these passed verification. He was more motivated to complete his tasks than he is with adapted topics from his year level. It was exciting to see him participating and learning at his own level of understanding. In 2015 he completed 3 more Headway modules and we will be aiming for 4 more in 2016, so he can achieve the SPEC Certificate.
Towards the end of 2014, I attended training for the Spek Reading programme. This was then purchased and I introduced it to another ORS teacher. Her student was a lad in Yr.8 who was not reading. She decided to try it with him this year and has had great success. He whizzed through the first set of words and has completed to Book 4. We will be buying activity set 5 and 6 to carry on with in 2016. She has another student who will be starting on the programme next year. I can highly recommend this!
In 2015, I introduced the Headway module, Shopping, to a small group of Yr. 10 students. They all enjoyed the tasks and the learning was evident. They all passed verification in June.
The TRUMP module Managing Self was also given to the same small group of 3 students. They completed this and passed verification in the November meeting. It was exciting to see the varied and personal learning that came from the tasks and smarter targets. The students themselves were highly motivated and testify to how appropriate the course was and how much they have learned. Their parents are all thrilled with the programme as an alternative and relevant to life pathway.
A success story that must be included here is that on talking with family members of one of our students, the feedback was that they had noticed a growth in maturity and understanding and felt it could be linked to the SPEC programme.
I can personally testify that the 4 students we have working on SPEC modules get more thinking and learning accomplished in the time and they grow more in understanding of concepts and various skills than they have evidenced in other subjects.
2016: The intention is to have our small group of Yr. 11 students working towards the New Zealand Certificate for Living Skills for supported learners, anew qualification that was listed in August 2015. We aim to add a 4th student to this group.
The Yr. 13 student will be aiming to complete enough Headway modules to gain his SPEC Certificate.
We are also planning to introduce this NZ Certificate to one or two Yr. 9 students.
Thanks for the amazing opportunity to use the SPEC courses. I am thrilled to see how it develops and grows our students and with the backing of senior management, we can keep developing the programme at Bethlehem College.