Harrogate Grammar School’s mission to support every student

The special educational needs (SEN) faculty at Harrogate Grammar School now has a permanent home in a central hub at the school after a summer of hard work.

Saturday, 20th September 2014, 5:30 pm
NADV 1409166AM2 Harrogate Grammar School Sen Space. Viv Bednarczyk with her team Sylvia Monteagle, Eileen Boag, Tom Baxter, Lynne Edwards, Julie Nixon, Suzanne Coghlan, Julie Peggs and Emma Wishart.(1409166AM2)

Relocating from two rooms in the school, which split the space but also the service the team could offer, to one centralised area, the faculty can now offer a more accessible learning environment that is easier to navigate for students with often complex needs.

Above the school’s main library, the new space, which was created after building work that included putting up a new wall and doors, includes various areas meaning the staff can now coordinate better, but also that the children at the school know they can be completely comfortable in their environment.

Head of the faculty Viv Bednarczyk said: “It has brought all our rooms and interventions into one space and the room we had previously is a classroom for a large group of students.

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“All schools have to meet a wide range of special needs, and the facilities we have got now are really a recognition that we are ready to face the challenges for the next decade of special needs.

“The school has excellence for all as its ethos and mission statement and schools often have these laudable aims, but I feel it is often reflected in facilities and resources that are included.

“Anybody coming in here would see our commitment to excellence for all is exactly as we say it is - that students with special needs are highly valued here and deserve access to space in which they can thrive.”

The work, which was completed over the summer break, was a joint venture between the faculty and the grammar school’s site team.

Working together to make a bespoke area purpose-built with a direct aim, the facility includes a literacy carousel where children move from one activity to another independently, and as this requires an open space it is really the first time it has been used to good effect.

It also incorporates an area for students who are struggling a little bit with the modern world and might be feeling anxious, and when outside agencies are called in to provide support they have a quiet area readily available for them to do their job.

The staff also have offices and meeting rooms where they can freely discuss the confidential paperwork included in their work, and a kitchen is there for the support team who need to be on duty at all times, including through lunch.

Mrs Bednarczyk said: “It has been a fantastic effort by all concerned, and though we are not quite finished yet in terms of our displays, having this means we have a distinct area for supporting children.

“Some of our students find it very difficult to be in a school of nearly 2,000, so we have a safe haven here.

“With children with diverse needs you have to weigh up what they need, but we looked at what was available and we feel we were given the chance to reflect and make the decision in the interests of children, and the space is quite overwhelming.

“I had a wish list of things I wanted and we are thrilled we have an area the children can be proud of. It means we can push the boundaries for these children.

“There are a lot of priorities in education and I am really proud this school acknowledges the needs of a minority of students but whose needs are really important. It is life-changing for these children to have their needs met by facilities and resources.”

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