Dominic Starkey, aged 24, from Derbyshire, grew up with a sibling with autism and trained as a SEND teaching assistant. He is creating Fidjit – an app that offers personalised digital support to young people with special educational needs. The app will provide AI-generated reporting and trend-tracking to accurately capture the child’s daily needs, plus a chat feature to support quick and easy communication between home and schools.
“Having both personal and professional experiences with SEND has motivated me to ensure we can support the child and their support network. This is why I founded Fidjit, a programme which will ensure every child is ready to learn. We are striving to ensure every child can reach their potential!”
Following an apprenticeship working closely with a child with autism, then teaching first aid in Kenya,Dominic became a special educational needs teaching assistant. He found a love of tailoring support for children and young people to optimise their learning. He now works as a product manager, recently working with clients to improve mental health services.
Growing up with a sister with autism demonstrated the daily struggles of neurodiversity as well as the talents neurodiverse young people possess. This lived experience has driven him to found Fidjit, creating a team of people dedicated to making real change for neurodiverse young people.
In 2022, just under 1.5 million students in England have a SEND or an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), an increase of 77,000 in 2021.
Following changes to SEND diagnosis and provision in 2010, more students are placed in mainstream education. Staff are challenged with teaching a diverse range of students and must navigate rigid systems in order to give their students tailored support, and often need to do this without up to date evidence and data of their students’ needs.
The current digital tools to address this focus on the medical side of mental health, do not meet staff needs, and are diagnosis dependent.
“Many staff are challenged with teaching such a diverse range of students. The students are limited by support offered and find learning challenging due to their neurodiversity.”
The bold idea
Co-designed with SENDCo’s, teaching staff and education policy leaders, the Fidjit programme is a multifaceted approach to facilitating high-quality support for primary aged neurodiverse young people with potential mental health, or emotional regulatory difficulties.
The immersive digital programme will offer a series of personalised activities for neurodiverse students; AI generated reporting and trend tracking to accurately capture and evidence the child’s needs on a daily basis; a chat feature to support quick and easy communication between home and schools; and personalised settings to ensure every aspect of Fidjit works for the child and the team around the child.
The team has had a number of schools register interest for the product when it is available, and there are six schools who have requested to be test sites.
Dominic’s ultimate vision for this project is to launch this service so it is accessible to all children within the UK, enhancing the education experience for over 1.5 million students.
“Fidjit is a movement with an enormous mission to create an inclusive and accessible society for all. We understand and celebrate human individuality and see neurodiversity as a superpower which should be unleashed and nourished to flourish.”
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