Hornbeam Academy, London Case Study

Hornbeam Academy is a mixed age special school, admitting pupils from 2-19 years old with a range of special educational needs. There are around 260 students based across two school sites in Walthamstow, Greater London.


Hornbeam Academy used AV1 as part of an eight month pilot project with the London Grid for Learning. Mihaela Chowdhury explains how, “the benefits were beyond any expectations.”

“Our user, aged 18, has special needs related to global learning difficulties, language delay and social interaction difficulties. He became very ill without doctors knowing the cause, and went into a catatonic state for a few weeks. He was later diagnosed with psychosis and was unable to attend school and have interaction with his peers. He suffered great memory loss, became fully dependent on adult support and couldn’t communicate with others.

We hoped that AV1 would help him reconnect with his peers, his school world and himself. Which it did brilliantly.”

“When I proposed using AV1, his Mum was very enthusiastic, especially after I demonstrated AV1 at their home. It was magical to see him smiling and talking after so many months of being in an unresponsive state. We are a small school and have now introduced AV1 to other students and staff who were aware of his situation, so were very excited about using AV1. AV1 soon became part of our learning environment so we could carry on with our lessons as usual.”


“As his class teacher, I took responsibility for the AV1, ensuring it was charged at the end of the day and ready to be used each morning. Some of our students were entrusted with the AV1 during breaks and they would go around the playground chatting with our pupil and other peers and staff. We always had a good laugh as the students were amazed about this technology that looked like magic.”


Mihaela advises that staff and the family should be properly introduced to AV1 so there are no misconceptions about it being intrusive technology, “Make sure the staff are enthusiastic and passionate and the family respect the T&Cs so the teachers don’t feel they are being spied upon.”

“We stopped using AV1 after four months when he was well enough to return to school. The social, emotional and mental health benefits were beyond any expectations, and he is now back to his old self; funny and smart. I would absolutely recommend it. Our user, due to his illness, had spent almost one year in total isolation, so using AV1 was literally the end of his isolation.”