Beatlie School empowers student independence with ActivPanel LX

Beatlie School empowers student independence with ActivPanel LX

Published: May 14th, 2024

Beatlie School in West Lothian, Scotland, provides specialist education for pupils ages 3 to 18 with severe and complex support and profound medical needs. Beatlie uses Promethean panels a little differently than most schools—with a goal of motivating and engaging students through sensory-based learning.

The teaching staff at Beatlie are used to projectors and interactive whiteboards, so the ActivPanel LX upgrade has been a huge help for the new classrooms in more ways than one. “A lot of the things we’ve been doing with the panels have been around augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) switch technology, so having different switches hooked up to the panel to allow for our pupils to interact,” said Hazel Swanston, a teacher at Beatlie School. “I have pupils who can’t stand up, walk over, and touch the panel or use any kind of mirrored device, so that’s one way that we’ve been using the panel successfully to create independence in learning.”

Teachers and students just moved into the new school in August 2023, and having received the keys to the building only a few days before the kids arrived, the staff at Beatlie didn’t have a lot of time to explore the campus or panels.

It was easy to get up and running straight away. We didn’t need lots of updates, and it was quite easy to connect to our systems

Hazel Swanston, Beatlie School teacher

Having everything ready ahead of time was crucial. “For our pupils who have quite significant autism spectrum disorder needs, having the routines in place and being able to stick with them is quite important,” Hazel said. “Some of our pupils, especially in the younger years, can find it very challenging when routines are changed. Having reliability within the panel has been good.”

Putting the ActivPanel LX to the test

The robustness of the ActivPanel LX has been tested with heavy hands and lots of excitement. “The panels have withstood everything that we’ve thrown at them, or everything our pupils have thrown at them,” Hazel joked.

The students enjoy playing games, counting songs, and other types of cause-and-effect activities. Each lesson is specifically tailored to their favourite Promethean apps, or content from an outside source. “Pupils in the class can have their own specific shortcuts, games, and apps that they really enjoy. Most of our kids, they just absolutely love technology.”

The first few weeks in the new school were a lot of fun for the students, because it wasn’t just the eight ActivPanel displays that were new. “We have a rebound room. We’ve got a hydrotherapy pool, we’ve got a multi-sensory space,” Hazel said. Even with all that, one of the most exciting parts was watching the buzz around the panels in the classrooms.

Pupils who were previously motivated by technology immediately gravitated toward the panel, they knew that they could interact with it, and something would happen for them, and it gives them a level of independence.

Hazel Swanston

The students can interact without having hand-over-hand support or hand-under-hand support, and they can be self-directed with some things they do online, like playing games. They explore interactive worlds with different themes. “For some of our pupils who have that level of mobility, it can help teachers pinpoint exactly what they are motivated by,” she said. “Was it a game that was specific to listening to songs? Did it have lots of shapes and colours? Did it have surprises and things popping up? It can help target interventions, things that we do with the kids, and other aspects of school life.”

The future of education technology for Beatlie School

After brainstorming ways to make the ActivPanel LX even easier to use for Beatlie’s teachers and students, Hazel has plenty of ideas when it comes to student engagement. Having a combination of switches and touch screens at their disposal and knowing that Promethean is a champion for accessibility in the classroom, she is feeling positive about the future.

Beatlie has the ongoing support of Promethean’s Certified Trainer course, which is helping them uncover even more ways to promote hands-on and play-based learning with their students. “Having games that our pupils can do; do they notice things on the screen? Can they track one of the things on the screen? Can they target a particular item or object when it gets to an area on the screen? This is really motivating for our pupils and Promethean is able to facilitate that,” Hazel said.

The concepts are plentiful, and each one of them is directed at making teachers’ and students’ lives easier. “Having the OPS installed within the ActivPanel LX has been a godsend for us! We use seven of our panels on a daily basis, and the eighth panel is more for things like training and sharing feedback.” Beatlie continues to discover the truly flexible nature and myriad ways of integrating the panels into their routines. “They are being very, very well used in school.”

Is the ActivPanel LX right for your school? Learn more and request a demo today.