Great progress has been made with the development of a cross curricular Sight for Wight Outreach Education Programme for children at Key Stage 1 (ages 5 – 7 years) focusing on sight, sight loss and promoting an understanding of lifestyle choices that support avoidable sight loss.

Sessions are being designed to engage and stimulate by encompassing a variety of learning styles that can be adapted for pupils of all abilities, for use both in the classroom and in the outside environment.

Quite a change from my usual activities as CEO, but drawing on former education and lifelong learning experience gained over many years within a variety of heritage and charity settings, I have been greatly enjoying developing curriculum linked education resources.  I am most grateful to have received support from the volunteers of the Sight for Wight Education Working Party, with ideas for activities and in reviewing the materials developed.  Education Working Party members are: Maria Herbert, Head of School at Arreton Primary; Ruth Hollingshead, Trustee, visually impaired Member and Sight for Wight volunteer; Terrie Latimer, a recently retired qualified Primary Teacher with over 35 years’ classroom experience; Paul Rutherford, Trustee and former Chairman of Sight for Wight, who enjoyed a second career in education; Nicki Webb, a Learning Support Assistant for SEND (special educational needs) pupils at Isle of Wight College.  Particular thanks go to Ruth, Terrie and Paul who spent several hours with me the other evening, reviewing all of the material developed, including sessions linked to science, history, geography, maths, technology, literacy and music.

Currently we have four schools who are booked to try out all of the materials and resources under development in September and October this year.  This will allow us to make any fine adjustments to the activities and resources before we offer the education programme more widely across the Island from April 2020.

I recently enjoyed a great morning with Class Teacher Mrs. Hayley Roberts at Dover Park Primary School, Ryde, who was enormously helpful, reviewing all of the resources and activities developed, ensuring that vocabulary is pitched at an appropriate level for the age group and that concepts will complement classroom learning. I also had the pleasure of meeting the class of children who will be taking part in the pilot sessions at Dover Park Primary in September.  They were a fantastic bunch and enjoyed helping choose the names of the four wild animal characters, all of whom have special characteristics with regard to their sight, who are going to feature in the various sessions and activities of the Sight for Wight KS1 Education Programme.

The four characters, pictured below, are a barn owl, a mole, a sea-eagle and a brown, long-eared bat.  The children adored these tactile characters and thought it very amusing that, relative to each other, they are not at all to scale.  The bat, who would in real life fit snugly in the cupped palm of your hand, is the largest of the four toy animals, with a beautifully furry body and velvety wings.

Meet the Menagerie!

Brown, Long-eared Bat, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Mole and Barn Owl

What about the names the children chose?  Well, all will be revealed after I’ve met and consulted with some more children who will be taking part in the pilot sessions in the autumn.  In the meantime, my thanks to Mrs. Roberts and to the pupils who will be in her Year 2 class next term.  I’m really looking forward to spending a full day with them all – we are going to have tremendous fun learning together at Dover Park Primary! 

For anyone interested in learning more about the Sight for Wight Education Programme or who might have an interest in supporting the delivery of outreach sessions, please get in touch.