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Special educational needs school deploys VR application


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A school for children with special educational needs (SEN) has begun to use a virtual reality (VR) environment to support its pupils.

Bettridge School in Cheltenham has adopted the technology under a project with the Emerging Technology Lab of CGI, which has provided support on a pro bono basis.

They have developed a web and VR application for pupils to experience everyday social interactions, such as a trip to the supermarket, in a controlled environment, and enables the school to build new scenarios in the future.

The first application covers a trip to a local branch of Tesco and involves imagery from 360 degree GoPro cameras. It can accommodate students with different abilities to explore scenarios that can be either teacher guided or student driven depending on specific needs and objectives. 

Complex needs

Jo Bleasdale, head teacher at Bettridge School, said: “We have young people with some really complex needs and it was about given them practices and scenarios outside in the community but using technology.”

She added: “I’m blown away by the technology and knowing how it will build pupils’ confidence going from the virtual world to reality.”

Patrick Hutchings, senior vice president consulting services for secure innovation and advisory at CGI, said: “There is an opportunity to use this as a VR engine within a number of environments. We are talking to our strategic business unite with the UK at the moment to see whether we can roll this out to other schools and local communities.”

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