MORE THAN JUST WALKING: WOW IN SEND SCHOOLS
As the UK charity for everyday walking, we’ve been running walk to school initiatives and campaigns for over 25 years.
WOW – our walk to school challenge is delivered in around 1,500 schools across the UK encouraging every child and family who can to walk to school.
We understand though that walking to school isn’t an option for everyone and that varying educational needs and disabilities have an impact on how different school communities might be able to participate in WOW.
We want WOW to be as inclusive as possible and our schools teams work with teachers and SENCO to meet individual needs. WOW is under continuous development and our aim is to be as open to learning, receptive to suggestions and adaptive to needs as we can.
CAROLINE IN BLACKPOOL
I deliver WOW in three SEND schools in Blackpool. I work with each school individually and let them lead on how our WOW could fit their students’ school life and needs. I'm really pleased that following a successful trial in summer term 2022, each school is continuing for the academic year 22/23.
With two of the schools, we have worked to adapt WOW to individual class needs. This means that at some point during the week, when it’s convenient and appropriate for them, they do some form of physical activity. Some classes have weekly activities, such as a walk to a local shop or park. Others may do some activity in the playground or a morning stretch/mini workout in the classroom. For these activities, they are rewarded a sticker. If they've collected at least one sticker per week, they will receive a WOW badge at the end of the month.
NEELAM IN HERTFORDSHIRE
Each SEN school is different so often a bespoke approach to WOW is necessary. One experience stands out from my work in Hertfordshire where I built a relationship with a school that was very keen to run WOW.
I worked very closely with the headteacher to design a way that we could make WOW work in a meaningful wayfor the school and the children.
As most children were brought to school by taxi or bus, it was not possible to encourage them to travel to school actively, so we focussed on increasing physical activity during the school day and at home.
The school also introduced an extra physical activity lunch time club so there were more opportunities to increase activity levels. We also recognised that a month was too long for children to wait for the reward, so they received a sticker at the end of each week and then a badge at the end of the month as usual.
JESSIE IN CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Running WOW in a specialist setting has been most effective when it is adapted with teacher input. We can produce specialist resources for schools to help enhance our offer and to make them more inclusive for a range of audiences and needs.
For example, at Spring Common Academy, children were encouraged to be active during the school day, with mention of physio exercises and walkers to be inclusive. Activity was recorded on wall charts or the WOW Travel Tracker. A halfway reward was needed to keep children’s interest, so after two active weeks, children would earn a certificate before the badge at the end of the month. Our teams were able to provide for this quickly, with stickers and bespoke certificates. The school also requested for Strider (our mascot) and a School Coordinator to attend their launch assembly, as the children found outside visitors and mascots particularly engaging.
ZOE IN ESSEX
I have loved getting WOW launched in over 30 schools across Essex with assemblies, visits from Strider and WOW Ambassador training. When Strider is at a school, you can see how happy children of all ages, abilities and needs are to have Strider visit their school. My experience is mostly with mainstream schools but as evidenced by the experience shared by Miss Woodrow below, the WOW Ambassador role can be a great way to involve children with special educational needs to reap the great benefits that WOW can bring.
KELLY IN BRISTOL
I loved supporting this SEN school to find a way to make WOW work for them. We did initially explore having the school minibus stop 0.5 mile from school once a week, but the school didn’t have enough staff available to support this. We decided then on a whole school walk once a week around the local area and I’m pleased to say these carried on long after my engagement ended. The walk was a small loop, and it took around 15-30minutes. The pupils were awarded stickers and then WOW badges for taking part in the weekly walk.
I also supported this with around six weeks of workshops. The school was keen for a lot of repetition in these workshops, so we regularly went for a walk around the local area while marking off landmarks on a worksheet, we did collages of zebra crossings, talked about how signs give us information and drew pictures of how they would walk to school safely.
And here's what some of the teachers taking part had to say:
“It is really nice that our children have been able to take part in this project and not just told ‘it isn’t appropriate’. It has been fantastic that we have been able to work together to make this relevant to our children.”
"A HUGE thank you to both you and Jim. You were amazing and the kids loved it… Thank you for all of the adaptations that you have agreed to make for Spring Common."
Debra Wurf, Teacher, Spring Common Academy
"Our whole class absolutely love WOW and the Travel Tracker! It has encouraged them to think about how they can make a difference to the planet, even at such a young age.
It has been an amazing tool for one child in particular, whose special educational needs have often stopped him from developing social skills, like learning the names of the children in our class. However, he loves the WOW Travel Tracker so much that it has now become his daily job to complete it on the interactive board with the class. He calls out their names and submits their responses. It has been amazing to see him develop confidence and speak in whole class situations.
We love WOW and all the positives it has brought to our class this year. We hope it continues!"
Miss Woodrow, Year 2 teacher, Stanway Fiveways Primary School
If you have any questions on the adaptability of WOW in SEND schools or would like to bring WOW to your school, please email email@example.com
Depending on your area and our funding availability, your school may be eligible to run WOW for free with the support of a Living Streets School/Project Coordinator.