New £10K sensory garden opens at Wakefield school to support children with SEND

A new sensory garden has opened at Pinders Primary School to help and support children at the school who have Special Educational Needs (SEND), thanks to funding from Wakefield Council.

The school were successful in bidding for a grant of £10,515 from the High Needs Capital Fund, after showing an imaginative use of the school’s grounds to provide an outdoor space for children with SEND such as Autism and behaviours that challenge.

The bid included drawings from the children themselves, showing what they wanted in the space. All bids were evaluated by a multi-agency panel which included headteachers and parents.

Children with SEND often have ‘sensory seeking’ behaviours - they have a need to touch, taste, smell, hear and see things.

A new sensory garden has opened at Pinders Primary School to help and support children at the school who have Special Educational Needs (SEND), thanks to funding from Wakefield Council.

The sensory garden provides a safe space to have these sensory needs met. Because they have their sensory needs met, they are then able to participate in learning back in the classroom.

Coun Margaret Isherwood, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Schools, colleges and early years settings are incredibly imaginative and resourceful when it comes to spending even relatively small amounts of money to improve the educational experience of children and young people with SEND.

“They know their children and young people’s needs really well and what will support them.

"As a local authority we recognise that where children and young people with SEND can attend their local mainstream schools they build friendships with their peers, have a greater sense of belonging to their local community, and have better outcomes, which is why we have provided this funding.”

Kelly Rowlands, Assistant Headteacher at Pinders Primary School, said: “We have recently developed an indoor space into a sensory room, after observing the positive effects on our pupils with their social skills, cognitive development and self-regulation techniques, we decided to extend our provision to the outdoors and apply for the High Needs Capital Funding Grant.

“The sensory garden has impacted our children greatly. Our children have a full sensory experience through the use of different plants, textures and materials.

"The sensory garden was carefully planned and designed by our pupils to cleverly incorporate a sensory path, water features, pods and designated zones for specific sensory experiences.”

As a pilot for this year, the council ring-fenced £350k from the High Needs Capital Fund and invited mainstream schools, colleges and early years settings to bid for grants of up to £50k to complete capital works in their settings which would benefit children and young people with SEND.

In total 11 bids were successful, and other successful projects included sensory spaces within buildings, creating outdoor classrooms, installing lifts, creating new spaces for intervention groups – all of which will have a positive impact on the mainstream settings being able to meet the needs of more children and young people with SEND.