We focus a huge amount on helping our children develop their gross motor skills and physical movement. But what support is out there for those children who find mobility a bit more challenging than most? Assistant headteacher Simon Wright writes about the MOVE programme at his school…
As a practitioner working in a school dedicated to pupils with severe and complex learning differences, I have a lot of experience in working with children who need extra support around movement.
As mobility is something that creates challenges for the vast majority of our children, we decided to work with a specialist organisation to enhance what we could offer in-house.
The MOVE Programme is for children who find sitting, standing or walking challenging. Its aim is to make the world more accessible and give children agency in their decision-making.
The programme is great for a wide range of mobility issues, from children who are working on their head control to those who find uneven surfaces or staircases a challenge.
The programme is not a therapy technique. As such, it gives equal worth to every person involved in working with children.
One question educators often ask me is how you can blend MOVE with your existing administrative systems. In recent years, we’ve found that being able to use our assessment system, Tapestry, in conjunction with the MOVE programme assessment has allowed us to tell clear narratives about our children and the learning journey they’ve been on.
This video tracks one of our MOVE users, Ibrahim, through his first and second year at Cherry Garden. You can witness the progress he has made towards his goal of being able to walk with two sticks in order to play more freely with his peers.
We’ve put in place a variety of strategies and opportunities to ensure high levels of motivation and increased independence, which are also key features of the programme.
The programme is built around creating goals which can be worked on collaboratively between home, school and anyone else who has a regular involvement in the child’s life.
At Cherry Garden, all the children who use the programme have a MOVE goal incorporated into their long-term EHC outcomes, as well as their medium-term outcomes.
We then break this goal down into three smaller Just About Me (JAM) goals. We work on these through the year and display them in the classroom, so anyone working with the children can quickly understand their current strengths and needs in this area.
MOVE incorporates support from the whole team around the child or young person; parents/carers, school staff, therapists and at the very heart, the interests and aspirations of the young person themselves.
MOVE should be a regular part of a child’s day – not an add-on or an extra subject. At Cherry Garden, we try to ensure children are working towards their MOVE goals as often as possible.
For example, a child who has a goal to sit on a conventional chair might practise this at lunchtime, sitting with their peers at the table. They may also join in with small group work such as a music lesson or playing in a water tray outside.
The whole philosophy is that you incorporate MOVE’s mobility goals into daily activities and routines. This is so it doesn’t impact on time and staffing levels. It’s about practising MOVE skills as frequently as possible, not just as part of a physio programme or once-a-week session such as PE.
If you’re considering working with MOVE, think about the lessons or activities throughout your own school day where you could incorporate a MOVE exercise or goal. Then factor them in throughout the school week.
We have been using MOVE at Cherry Garden since 2012. We currently have three MOVE ‘trainers’ who oversee the delivery of the programme. They also manage training and staff development needs.
Cherry Garden is now recognised as a MOVE Centre of Excellence. This means we support other schools and settings with MOVE and deliver a high-quality level of well-embedded practice.
During my six and a half years at Cherry Garden, we’ve noticed the overall percentage of our children who are MOVE users steadily increase from around 20% to around 33% currently. This seems to be a common trend in specialist settings.
Additionally, we’re now seeing an increase in local nurseries and mainstream schools reporting that they are seeing a rise in the number of children who need extra support to access their environment.
If you’re working in a setting with increasing amounts of complex needs pupils, I recommend investigating a programme such as MOVE to support your teaching.