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Professional Master of Education- Art & Design with digital

The Independent Study Project.
LASD and Redhill School, May 2016
The independent study required us to spend two hours a week over a six-week
period in an alternative educational setting. The purpose to the Independent Study
is to establish working protocols to liaise productively with educational or cultural
agencies outside the college.
Fellow PME student, Claire Johnston and I had the
privilege to work in Redhill School for children with
autism, Patrickswell, Co. Limerick.

Redhill School
There are 75 pupils at the school, which are supported by 13 teachers and 31
Special Needs Assistants. It has been designed based on best practice for
children with autism combined with Department of the Environment guidelines for
special schools. This is a purpose built school to facilitate the needs of the

Each classroom room is designed to cater for the specific needs of the students
and consists of a bathroom, kitchen area and a quite room. Some rooms were
visually quitter than others. There is direct access to the playground and garden
from each brightly light classroom.
The Aims of Red Hill School:
1. To create a friendly, cheerful and open environment where students can
interact in a free and secure manner and where positive relationships with
others can be fostered and maintained.
2. To provide a broad curriculum that will encourage and facilitate the overall
development of each child to his/her potential
3. To focus positively on the abilities and strengths of each child while
recognising and supporting areas of needs.
4. To provide an advisory and support service for parents and carers and to
actively promote real involvement in the life of the school.
5. To interact and develop links as much as possible with other special
schools, primary mainstream schools.
There are clear protocols for the smooth and calm operation of the school and this
results in a calm quite atmosphere broken by the excitement and noise of students
transitioning from one area or activity to another, very important for a student living
with autistic challenges.

Different teaching methods are employed within the school

such as Applied behavior analysis ABA and TEACCH .
TEACCH speciffically relates to students with autism. It
Develops an individualized person- and family-centered
plan for each student. the school creates a Structured
physical environment which uses visual supports to make
the activities predictable and understandable.
Teaching aids included a visual time table of the sequence
daily activities for each student. Non-verbal students use a
book of images/ipad to communicate how the feel or what
they need. The teachers visually record the activities of
non verbal students to be shown to the parents/guardians
each day.


The project
Working in collaboration with the teachers This was a 3D
project using airdrying clay and molds. Students were able
combine the clay shapes made from the molds to create
monsters and funny creatures. Once the clay was dry the
students painted their creations. For the last lesson the
students were introduced to different drawing media and
textured paper.
We documented the work we did with the students, the school and the work
created by the students. We created a film combining photographs taken during
the teaching process and our personal reflections. Redhill are using this film on
their website.


Jack (not his real name) did not seem engaged with the ceramic project. He kept
to himself on this floor mat. I introduced him to black paper and oil pastels leaving
them on the floor beside him. Encouraged by his special needs assistant (SNA) he
started to use the materials provided. He seemed to enjoy himself putting the
pastels in the box, to the delight of his SNA. So on the next visit I provided Jack
soft textured card and chalk pastels. This really took his fancy and he became very
engaged sitting up away from his mat. The texture of the card with the softness of
the chalk pastels may have appealed to him.

Overall the alternative Education placement, while posing its challenges was
extremly benefical, a great experience and offered us the opportunity to use
theoritical teaching stratgies we studied in college.
Red Hill School seeks to interact and develop links with other primary schools,
both within the special education and mainstream systems, encouraging
community involvement and integration in the mission statement.
Creating a link between Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) teacher training
programe and Redhill School benifets everyone, the students in Redhill, the
research students, us. We gain experience and insight and the students have the
possibility to engage with art, have fun and make art using different materials. The
documentation of the process enables the sharing of information. The SEN
module in LSAD is strenghtened by the opportunity of gaining from the knowledge
and experience in working in a special needs school. The teachers in Redhill
School gain from interacting with other teachers.