Exmouth’s Deaf Academy recognised for ‘outstanding use’ of technology during lockdown

A Defa Academy student using technology to continue his learning

A Defa Academy student using technology to continue his learning - Credit: Deaf Academy

The Deaf Academy, based in Exmouth, has been recognised for its outstanding use of technology in delivering remote teaching and learning in a national education award. 

The academy has been shortlisted in the Tes FE Awards for 2021, and is the only SEN (special educational needs) provision shortlisted in this category. 

During the first lockdown, the Deaf Academy developed an online academy to support its students learning from home.  

Launched in April 2020, every student was given a tablet and full access to their education, with blended live learning and video lessons, all with interpretation to ensure complete accessibility for British Sign Language users. 

The Academy implemented an online learning programme that met the needs of every student.  

It considered their language acquisition, additional needs including visual impairments and autism, along with the heightened levels of anxiety due to the covid pandemic. 

Jane Shann, assistant principal for education at the Deaf Academy, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that our dedication to student learning and wellbeing has been acknowledged as outstanding on a national level.  

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“Every attention to detail has paid off.  

“We’re very proud of our Online Academy and its capabilities to support children of all complexities.  

“Absolutely everything was delivered virtually, from speech and language therapy, physio packs, bespoke learning, and even Friday assemblies for families.  

“None of this would have been possible without the sheer determination and dedication from our key workers.” 

Students were provided supervised ‘hang out’ Zoom sessions at break times to ensure friendships could continue and no child was left isolated.  

‘No screen Wednesdays’ were initiated to combat screen fatigue. This enabled students to explore their creativity and independent learning skills. They were given tasks each week or given the choice to explore their own interests to develop their sense of self. 

Julia Belgutay, Head of FE at Tes, said: “Further education providers have excelled in what has been a truly challenging year, and the amazing individuals, teams and institutions on our Tes FE Awards shortlist showcase that.  

“Our judges were highly impressed with the calibre of entries and I want to congratulate everyone who has made the shortlist – it is a brilliant achievement.” 

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