Rugged Interactive | Arbour Vale SEN School

Case Study

Arbour Vale

Arbour Vale SEN School

How CardioWall helps promote coordination, motivation and problem-solving for students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).


A pair of CardioWalls were installed at Arbour Vale Specialist Sports College in Slough, Berkshire in the summer of 2013. Since then staff and students have been using the twin interactive wall panels to create challenges, games and exercise routines for their students.



"The CardioWall particularly lends itself to an ‘open play’ PE where the lessons are very much structured around what really gets the students’ attention. It develops their ability to think as well as giving them a really good physical workout.


We find the CardioWalls to be highly accessible as both a learning and an exercise / fitness tool. The majority of our diverse ability groups can enjoy and benefit from using them, and the score capture facility enables us to measure their progress easily."



Director of Specialism at Arbour Vale Specialist Sports College, Slough



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Arbour Vale School caters to children aged 4-18 with special educational needs. A key benefit sought with any new educational technology is that it must encourage students to be independent and motivated learners. Additional aims include the development of physical skills required to perform actions with more consistent control and accuracy, social skills in turn taking and teamwork, and concentration and listening skills.


In the following case study, Karen Erikson, Director of Specialism at Arbour Vale, describes the first group evaluation in which the CardioWall has been used to achieve these outcomes. 



The Teaching Activity – ClearOut


“The teaching activity specifically used the CardioWall’s ClearOut program, which involves the students turning off coloured lights with the aim of scoring the highest number of points in a given time period,” said Karen. “To be successful, pupils need good hand/feet/eye co-ordination, the motivation to achieve (either for themselves or a team) and problem-solving abilities in order to find the quickest way to extinguish the lights.”



The Students


Initially, this activity was introduced to two groups of secondary school-aged pupils with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). “As many of them have one very dominant hand, the CardioWall provides an opportunity for them to develop the co-ordination in their non-dominant side,” PE teacher Claire Whitlock explained. “It also provides a consistent structure and presentation of stimulus, which is beneficial for this group of pupils. The CardioWall was introduced to these groups as an individual activity to promote independence, motivation and focus on activities.”



Improving Co-ordination


“When first using the walls, pupils turned the lights off using one hand (most often their dominant hand),” said Karen. “However, with encouragement, and some modelling, pupils progressed onto using both hands, but still turning off one light at a time. This helped to improve their co-ordination in the non-dominant hand. Pupils were then encouraged to move further on by turning off two lights at a time requiring a high level of hand-eye co-ordination. Several of the pupils successfully mastered this skill, which was great to see.”



Independent Learning and Motivation


“Several of the pupils showed immediate engagement with the activity without any adult input,” noted Karen. “For those who were initially less motivated, once they had participated jointly with an adult their independence gradually increased to a point where occasional reminders from an adult were all that was needed to maintain focus. In addition to this, some pupils who regularly opted out of activities within a PE setting began to choose to engage in this activity without any adult guidance.”



Problem Solving


“The program also allowed the students to independently try different ways to turn off the lights in the quickest way,” added Karen. “Many of the students developed a methodical approach of starting either from the top or the bottom. The program’s structure and presentation allowed for this repetitive, methodical approach, which is often a preferred learning mode for pupils with ASD.”



Key Disability Benefits



  • Builds confidence and independent engagement in learning

  • Enables and stimulates personal progression

  • Improves problem solving and stimulates mental focus

  • Encourages methodical learning approach preferred for ASD

  • Helps social skills, sharing, team-work / collaboration

  • Accessible to most ability groups



  • Stimulates physical exertion and engages those less motivated

  • Improves balance, hand/foot-eye coordination

  • Aids consistent control and accuracy

  • Develops coordination in non-dominant hand (for ASD pupils)

  • Aids accuracy in sports-related skills such as dribbling/throwing/sending



Enabling Progression


“The CardioWall has enabled personalised progression in key areas within the PE curriculum as well as allowing pupils to successfully work independent of adult input,” concluded Karen. “The hand-eye co-ordination skills can be moved into sports-based activities, such as dribbling in basketball or catching with a softball mitt using the non-dominant hand. Furthermore, the CardioWall offers other game programs to continue the progression, such as ClusterShot where the pupils can focus on increasing their reaction speeds alongside hand/foot-eye co-ordination.”





For Arbour Vale, this first group study has been a quantifiable success. Karen’s team are now using the CardioWalls to achieve results with other ability groups within the school. “We find the CardioWalls to be highly accessible as both learning and an exercise/fitness tool. The majority of our diverse ability groups can enjoy and benefit from using them, and the score capture facility enables us to measure their progress particularly easily.”


Rugged Interactive founder Simon Heap, who designed and produced the CardioWall commented, “It’s a privilege for us to work with Arbour Vale, its wonderful staff and students.”


“We’re inspired to see how the teachers work with pupils to create games and drills that engage them and capture their imagination. We’re delighted that the CardioWall is contributing to their development in such a positive way.”


The CardioWall lends itself to an ‘open play’ PE where the lessons are very much structured around what really gets the students’ attention. It develops their ability to think as well as giving them a really good physical workout.


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