Technology is great — it's how iLearn at Holroyd School

iPads are being used as both a communication tool and  reward for pupils at Holroyd School.

Symbol-supported communication app proloquo2go is now used by many of the Merrylands school's 200 students from kindergarten to year 12 with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities.

Assistant principal Sally Cameron said students don't use the technology until they have become familiar with a picture system where they will exchange a photo of an object for the actual object or write and read sentences with laminated pictures stuck to velcro strips on books made by the teachers.

"It gives them another avenue to have a voice," she said.

"We set it up for the students' needs. They might tap 'I want a drink please' and it will say the words for them.

"We generally don't go to the technology side of things until the student has learned to do the exchange with the actual symbols.

"We find that's a natural progression."

Mrs Cameron said the technology saved time as it let teachers take photos of objects needed rather than trawl the internet for suitable pictures then print and laminate them.

"Also the technology is not making the students stand out as much. People see iPads all the time."

Assistant principal Kay Moore said all teachers have laminated pictures on their keyrings which represent the school's Positive Behaviour for Learning, a Department of Education initiative in western Sydney schools.

There are pictures for ‘keeping your hands and feet to yourself’, ‘being kind to your friends’, and ‘staying with your group’.

‘‘To link a symbol with a key phrase and an expectation goes all the way through from K through to 12, which is great for consistency and learning that we need to do,’’ Mrs Moore said.

New learning spaces 'magnificent'

Holroyd School has 16 new purpose-built classrooms and inclusive playground facilities.

They replace nine demountable classrooms in the senior school area and most of the primary school area once known as the Dunrossil School, built in the 1960’s through parent donations.

The upgrade was completed with funds from the federal government’s Building the Education Revolution. Each new classroom has an attached bathroom and quiet breakout space where students with autism can collect their thoughts when agitated.

Principal Anne Flint said just over half of the school had been rebuilt in the past 12 months.

‘‘The facility is magnificent,’’ Mrs Flint said.

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