With around 20% of children needing some form of extra support in the classroom, resources that make differentiation easy are essential but in short supply. Oaka Books is a specialist publisher of curriculum based resources for SEN pupils producing a range of over 50 topic packs for KS1, KS2 and KS3 pupils. This month the company gained ISEB (Independent Schools Examinations Board) endorsement for many of its products.
‘The ISEB exams are widely regarded as the gold standard in educational assessment. Gaining this endorsement is a real feather in our cap,’ explains Bambi Gardiner, founder of Oaka Books. ‘We set out to produce accessible revision packs for children who find school work a struggle. Until we launched Oaka there was nothing available for these pupils and it is fantastic that the ISEB is so enthusiastic about our topic packs. Its endorsement is not given lightly so we are thrilled.’
ISEB endorsement will cover the Oaka topic packs for Geography, History and French ranges. SEN (special educational needs) pupils need to be able to access the curriculum without a huge amount of extra work for teachers. That’s the view of Oaka Books founder, Bambi Gardiner, whose own daughter is dyslexic with a slow processing speed. It was the reason for the creation of the Oaka Topic Packs in 2013.
Three years on, Oaka Books has a product range of over 50 Key Stage 3/Common Entrance (CE) titles and supplies 350 schools and hundreds of parents with resources that making learning engaging, fun and, most importantly, effective.
‘When SEN pupils reach KS3 they are expected to work from the same subject resources as their non-SEN peers,’ Bambi explains. ‘It doesn’t always work. But, until we launched Oaka, suitable curriculum based resources just did not exist.’
Oaka’s KS2 and KS3 packs cover topics for Sciences, Geography, French and History. There is also a global locations board game, ‘On The Map’. The entire KS3/CE range was shortlisted for the Educational Resources ‘Best Secondary Product’ Award in 2015.
The packs are for children who like to learn with images and colour. For these children, pages of black and white text affect their ability to absorb information. Working with the Learning Support department at Hurstpierpoint College, a team of teachers and illustrators, Oaka produces Topic Packs to meet the needs of children who struggle in the classroom but still need to access the curriculum and pass exams.
As Kate Doehren, Director of LS at Hurst and a key contributor to Oaka Books, commented, ‘There is nothing more pleasing than seeing an under-confident child blossom into a successful student.’
Much of the Oaka ethos is based on confidence. ‘Pupils who are not strong readers, have comprehension issues or English as a second language can be left behind using standard text books and resources. They then lose interest, confidence and the downward spiral begins. Our packs create engagement and interest. The workbooks are achievable and the games reinforce learning in a fun way and can be used by the whole class,’ explains Bambi.
“KS3, in particular, is such a vital time for pupils to nail the basics. Teachers constantly tells us that, although our packs have been designed for SEN children, they are perfect for any child who likes to learn in a more visual way. It is great that the packs are now being used by subject teachers for whole classes as they make differentiation so easy, exactly what we set out to achieve.’
The new school year will see the launch of Oaka Digital, a new range of online resources to compliment the paper based Topic Packs. Oaka Digital will bring learning to life in a new way with 3D images and animations to help pupils really grasp and memorise key basic concepts and information that will see them through to GCSEs and even ‘A’ Levels.
What’s different about Oaka?
Oaka topic packs are full of images and colour, all laid out in a very clear format. The topic-based packs are short and concise, using bullet points and easy-to-understand words and sentences. There are no off-putting big books. All text is in Comic Sans 14pt font and is printed on a pale blue or yellow background. A glossary of key words for each topic ensures that important vocabulary is covered and each topic pack has an active learning game complete with question and answer flashcards. Pupils also get a ‘Write Your Own Notes’ book to complete.
The History packs include active learning maps with character cards for children to re-enact the events they’re learning about. This helps children to visualise events, making it far easier for them to recall the details.
Oaka topic packs are available from www.oakabooks.co.uk £7.97 each (volume discounts for schools).