50 SEN schools benefit from new sensory equipment in 2017
In 2017, the Lord’s Taverners secured grant funding for sensory rooms and outdoor play spaces in 50 Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools, improving the lives of over 4,200 young people with disabilities.
We have installed 22 sensory rooms and 10 outdoor play spaces, and allocated funding for a further 11 sensory rooms and seven outdoor play spaces. Young people all over the country have benefited, as there has been investment in SEN schools in 28 counties plus Wales, the Isle of Wight and Guernsey. During 2016, we provided funding for 23 sensory rooms and seven outdoor play spaces, so there has been a significant increase in the amount of schools that have had received vital new sensory equipment.
Some of the fundraising comes from partnerships with local businesses, funds and trusts, which means that we are able to support schools that are local to them, which benefits their own community. When the new sensory cabin at Thomas Wolsey School in Ipswich was opened in November, not only did it became the 30th sensory room to be installed through our partnership with BT, but it was also joint funded by several local businesses. The partnership with BT ran from 2010 to this year, and saw the lives of more than 18,000 young people all over the country with severe disabilities and communications difficulties greatly improved.
A sensory room is a stimulating environment aimed at developing hand-eye coordination, motor skills, colour recognition, communication and sensory skills for children with sensory impairments. Schools catering for children with severe learning and physical disabilities, sensory impairments and autism have found that regular access to a sensory room or sensory equipment can make significant improvements on a child’s emotional health and enhance their learning experience. Sensory rooms are also used to calm overactive children.
The acting Principal of Columbus School and College, who’s sensory room was unveiled to the school by England and West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking, Tom Jackson-Owens said: “This new sensory equipment will help us give our pupils the best chance to learn simple skills in language and communication, choice making and cause and effect. The pupils will also benefit from a wide range of experiences in the sensory room that will help them prepare for their future lives. This will make a big difference to the pupils at Columbus and will enable staff to give pupils the best opportunities possible to enjoy their learning.”
It is essential that children with severe learning and physical disabilities have access to suitable and adapted outdoor play equipment. ‘Play time’ is proven to improve children’s physical and mental health, help develop emotional responses and learning skills and improving basic numeracy and literacy. The Lord’s Taverners is committed to giving grants to SEN schools to help provide these spaces for their pupils, and in 2017 we funded 17 schools with over £200,000 to help improve the lives of young people living with disabilities.