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Enhancing Quality of Life...

Barnet College and Creative Connections
The Institute

Common Objectives with Creative Connections:

Arts Therapy approaches and Intensive Interaction:

A comparison of these two approaches became the main focus of our work on common objectives during the Spring term, with visits to each other's sessions, viewing of videos of each other's work, and lively discussion of our methods (their similarities, differences and complementary elements) taking place. Staff at Creative Connections collaborated to produce a description and explanation of the Arts Therapy approaches used there, as they are drawn from several areas of therapeutic practice and applied in an educational context. This practice has not previously been fully documented. The established philosophy, principles and techniques of Intensive Interaction inform work done at Barnet College. A paper exploring a comparison of these approaches is being considered.

Physical access audit:

At Barnet College, a meeting was held with the Estates Manager, and problem areas viewed. There followed discussion on possible solutions, amendments, improvements and additions, and some of the more basic and straightforward work has been carried out. A plan is being worked on currently to set a specific route through the college for wheelchair users, which will then be focused on to ensure ease of access (doorways, lifts, paths, lighting, route signs etc). Staff are working on plans to to establish a 'centralised' teaching area for students with learning difficulties within the main body of the building. This would remove the need to walk external paths through car parks to travel between classrooms situated in different areas of the site. It would also enable the college more easily to 'house' specialist equipment for students with profound and complex needs. This is, of course, a longer-term project.

Collaboration between further, adult and continuing education colleges:

Collaboration between further, adult and continuing education colleges: Work in this area at present is focusing on how to create an effective forum to enable greater collaboration. The day provision for people with learning difficulties living in the Borough of Barnet is currently under review, and Barnet College and Creative Connections managers are negotiating for the colleges to be included in the review and planning of future provision.

Objectives specific to Barnet College:

Assessment, recording and reporting systems:

A new ARR system was introduced for use in Learning Difficulties and Disabilities provision last winter. Across the last and the current term, staff are using the system, assessing and commenting on it, and agreeing on any urgent amendments that become necessary or advisable. Staff teaching within the provision for students with PCLD suggested amendments, subsequently introduced, to make documentation more meaningful for our students. Now, most of our focus is on 'trimming' to reduce the volume of paperwork.

Development of the curriculum:

This is the first year of the merger between Barnet and Hendon Colleges, and it was felt that our main focus for the next academic year should be on bringing together and identifying the provision for students with PCLD within both colleges. We are pleased with the planned developments however. There will be one new module, and additional sessions time-tabled in four existing modules, creating places for at least twenty more students. Some modules are being juxtaposed to enable attendance of one to three short modules in one morning. This is being done to try to meet the needs of students who may be able to tolerate only one short session, or a series of short, varied activity sessions.
Our work involving augmentative and alternative communication continues to provide us with some interesting and encouraging responses, and has now brought us into direct contact with the Community Team's Speech and Language Therapist, establishing closer ties for collaborative working.

Objectives specific to Creative Connections - The Institute:

Staff development:

Creative Connections has focussed on piloting learning support assistant training for five support workers/enablers who come with students to a Monday afternoon course from residential/home settings. One of the aims of the training is to encourage and monitor how learning is transferred between CC sessions and life at home/in the community and how this affects quality of life. Training started in September and a minimum of 18 sessions per academic year are planned, and most modules written. We are seeking validation and have researched possible 'off the shelf' packages. However, these do not seem suitable and we are developing our own package, the draft of which is about to be submitted to OCN. Given that students come from residential or care backgrounds we are also researching where CC training might fit with the new National Learning Disability Framework and are investigating accreditation from BILD. It is hoped that accreditation will be in place for September.

Development of multi-disciplinary practice and multi-agency work and user involvement:

The strands for both of these objectives run through all our work and are developing organically. Potential collaboration on joint training for person centred planning is under investigation, and we are hopeful of being involved in Joint Investment Planning.