Head into the supermarket, walk past the vegetables and then saunter towards the deli counter. What about some snacks or biscuits or maybe fresh orange juice? The Bridge at Hadley Learning Community in Telford has benefited from an amazing piece of immersive technology. Amazing Interactives uses a “REACH OUT” 3D system.  Their latest Life Skills Supermarket module bears an uncanny resemblance to Sainsbury’s and lets pupils walk around, see products and feel as if they are really there.

The Bridge is a special school with 162 pupils aged 5 to 19 years. It provides for pupils with severe and profound learning disabilities.  Many of them have additional needs including physical difficulties, sensory impairment and autism. In addition, there is an assessment nursery for up to 40 part-time pupils, The school is also a Business And Enterprise College giving pupils a chance to find out about tourism, creative industries, fair trade and to run mini enterprises.

The Amazing Interactives software has proved very successful and led them in new directions. Originally they used it for life skills and way finding. Pupils had to navigate and find their way round, deciding which aisle to go down. They also had to identify products so for example, they were presented with a shopping list and had to find the ingredients needed to make a pizza. They also practised their Functional Skills e.g. maths, considering prices, working with money, till receipts and special offers such as 2 for 1, buy 2 get the 3rd free.

For some pupils it provided practice in going shopping. They could have a go before trying the real thing. However, some pupils do not cope with the bustle and noise of a real supermarket so the Amazing Interactives experience could help them get used to the environment or could provide an alterative experience.

Diane Hasell is assistant head of the Bridge school and reported that there were several unexpected advantages: ”We received 3D cameras as part of the project and have been using them to film the students in a whole range of activities. We have also shared the technology with two local primary schools and a local private special school. In return, we get to use their grounds for some of our other projects. Although the Supermarket is an expensive technology, it is well worth the investment. It is not an entertainment nor edutainment but it certainly does entertain and engage our learners.”