Our young people are flying high and learning vital new skills thanks to the latest hi-tech addition to our computing teaching provision.

Drones have been introduced in computing classes at Prior’s Court, with our young people learning to control the devices using an iPad.

The drones were first used in a classroom setting to develop skills around controlling the devices, before now progressing to use outside to introduce more complex tasks, such as targeted landings, and taking photos and recording videos using in-built cameras.

Through using drones, our young people are practicing:

  • Functional Academic skills – through the learning of basic coding. Coding, and developing understanding of instructions, also supports learning in areas such as English and Maths.
  • Daily Living Skills – through practicing fine motor skills with the iPad controls, spatial awareness and avoiding obstacles, turn-taking, and understanding of instructions.

In the long-term, one of our ambitions is for young people to use the drones off-site to collect photos and video which will support their learning in subjects such as Science and Geography, as well as practicing and generalising other skills, noted above, in different settings.

Our young people began using the drones at the start of the 2020/21 academic year.

The introduction of drones to computing sessions comes after the successful implementation of the use of Virtual Reality headsets in the last academic year – a project which has seen Prior’s Court nominated for a Bett Award for innovation.

Nuno Guerreiro, computing teacher at Prior’s Court, said: “We are always trying to introduce new technology and equipment as a tool for learning, as tech can be a real motivator for our young people which then opens up pathways to learning and support in other areas.

“This has certainly been the case with one of our young people, Toby, who has been involved since the very beginning of this project. From installing the relevant apps to our current aim of making a video around our site, Toby has been enjoying himself while also, crucially, learning new skills and gaining confidence.

“But has also built on social skills as well as Toby works with another young person, Jamie, when using the drones.

“The use of technology is important to us as it also provides a strong reminder about our Founding Patron, Dame Stephanie Shirley, who was herself a pioneer in the field of IT.”

VR headsets continue to be used across Prior’s Court to complement other parts of our provision.

This has included, at the start of the year, supporting one young person to board a plane to go on an overseas family holiday for the first time in nine years (more details available here), and using the technology to complement the work of our on-site therapy team with phobia treatment (particularly around animals) and desensitisation around medical settings.