When ICT teacher Keith Riley-Gledhill decided it was time he learned to use the animation program Flash, he found it a struggle. What would help, he decided, was if he worked on it with one of his pupils at Sir Charles Parsons special school in Newcastle Upon Tyne: 16-year-old Claire Armstrong.
Claire is a gifted illustrator, who has already won art prizes. She also has severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. Nevertheless, she took to drawing in Flash every lunchtime, says Mr Riley-Gledhill. "Her work was so much better than mine almost immediately. I invested in a graphics tablet for her and we started to explore animation."
Claire began a series of drawings based on a female TV superhero: Jade Cocoon. Her storyline involved sea monsters in the Bermuda Triangle. Having produced the pictures she created sounds to accompany them, and submitted her two-minute animation to a national competition run by EducationCity.com.
Announcing her as a winner, the online education company's spokesman Matt Drakard said: "Claire's artistic strengths really shine through."
Since then, Claire has entered another art competition and done work experience at a Newcastle print shop, designing window posters and business cards. She hopes to start an art and design course at Newcastle college in September.
* Claire's animation can be seen at: www.newcastle-schools.org.uksircharlesparsonsnews.htm
Interviews by Karen Gold