Friday, 14th July 2017
ONCE derelict farm is helping to build brighter futures for students with complex needs
A ONCE derelict farm is helping to build brighter futures for students with complex needs by developing the skills they need for life.
Staff and students at Trinity Academy, Newcastle, have transformed the redundant site into an outdoor classroom and sensory area for children with special educational needs.
They spent weeks clearing and draining the area, laying block paving and installing a giant ruler, chessboard, chalk board, water feature and scales. They also plan to plant the area with a variety of shrubs, such as rosemary and lavender, whose fragrances have been shown to stimulate senses and learning.
Trinity Academy specialises in helping young people with emotional issues, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder bringing a greater air of calm and control to their learning.
Programme leader for construction Karl Elliott has already seen the benefits of the new initiative.
He said: “It really has had an impact. As well as being outdoors in the fresh air where their bodies can develop vitamin D, it has given them a host of construction skills.
“On top of that the students have shown enormous pride in their work, incredible work-based resilience – often they are not happy with the job and appreciate it is ok to redo it – greater empathy with each other, developed problem solving and team-building skills.
“They are so quick now to help each other out and apart from learning to listen to tutors are also learning from each other, which is fantastic.”
Without realizing students also develop a host of numeracy and literacy skills. Mr Elliott said: “It’s like sneaking greens into their dinners. Measuring out quantities and setting levels helps their maths and using the instructions and guidelines for materials and machinery boosts their reading skills. They don’t even realise the skills they are using.
“Teachers are all tradesmen and professionals with a passion for construction and this enthusiasm is infectious spreading through young people’s learning.
“This will be a great area with smells, noises and textures offering the full sensory environment for all our learners to appreciate.”