The power of apps, games and virtual reality to help our young people with getting into work is being explored in a new project spearheaded by one of our teachers, with support from a tech giant’s educational wing.

Vocational teacher Daniel Soler Lopez is set to launch a project in our new term to utilise different forms of technology to complement our existing approaches in preparing young people in our ‘Upper School’ for the world of work.

After presenting to the Microsoft in Education programme, Daniel was given the go-ahead to explore the project further, with the ambition of becoming a MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator) Expert in 2021.

There is a recognised ‘autism employment gap’ in the UK and our approach to post-16 education is focused on person-centred learning opportunities to develop the skills required in the world of work, with the aim to close this gap. One of our seven Areas of Learning, Vocational Learning (which is broken down into further specific programmes such as Catering & Hospitality, or Trade Skills) provides the framework for developing vocational skills, with young people’s programmes chosen based on their choices, interests and pre-existing skills.

Daniel’s project to support the Vocational Skills Area of Learning is threefold:

  • Using software on tablets and plasma screens that is directly relevant to the vocational study programme each young person is taking part in (pictured below). Apps and games are strong motivations for our young people with high participation levels.
  • Using videogames such as Minecraft to develop social skills (vital in the world of work), an established teaching tool in a variety of educational settings which we are aiming to introduce to our young people.
  • Expanding on our existing use of virtual reality (read more here) by simulating experiences of work relevant to the young person’s vocational study programmes.

The project launches this month and the aim is to present the results to the Microsoft in Education programme in the summer.

Prior's Court young person Ross using a plasma screen to utilise an app in support of vocational learning.

Daniel said: “Technology can provide so many amazing resources that we as teachers can use to empower our young people and, in this case, prepare them as thoroughly as possible for the world of work.

“Since I studied for my degree in education, I have known about the Microsoft in Education programme. The training that Microsoft provides and the different experiences and knowledge that you can get from this worldwide community, it is a daily source of inspiration.

“I am really excited to start with this project and to see what results we can achieve for our young people.”

Prior’s Court strives to use technology in our work with our young people as it keeps a direct link with our Founding Patron Dame Stephanie Shirley, an entrepreneurial pioneer in the field of IT.