Providing environments that facilitate inclusion
A case study at Kentish Town CofE Primary
With a well-designed system of panels and room division, Kentish Town CofE Primary successfully implements an inclusion strategy that allows children with SEND to thrive in a mainstream school.
It's an absolute kind of truth that good SEN practise is good practise for all children. And if any school is looking to improve the quality of what it offers for children with additional needs, the reality is that all children will be supported and lifted by that focus.
When it comes to inclusion here, we've always seen it in the wider view of society to get the children to think about what it's going to be like when they're grown ups and that it isn't about being separate.
Lots of people think that if you're going for a very inclusive school, that it's going to have some kind of negative impact on data. Previously, when we've been inspected, our positive outcomes have been because of our inclusion, not despite it. And parents tell us that they choose our school for exactly those reasons, and they see that their children are becoming really rounded citizens.
So when Miriam said to me, let's work with Community Playthings, they're going to design some workstations for us. I was like yes, it was not a difficult decision.
When we first had our furniture in, one child went straight into our workstation and absolutely loved the feeling of being in a safe, sort of closed off environment that was away from all the noise around them, but was also still part of the classroom. And because the children are more regulated, they spend more time in the classroom, so we have more time as a whole class together.
There's one child who's autistic, doesn't really have language yet, but now, having seen what you've designed for him, he explores through touch and he touches the wood and he runs his fingers around and it's really sturdy and it doesn't fall over when he pushes it, which the old setup used to, and you can see looking at what he's got there, that it's better for him. His day to day offer has improved and that will have an impact long term on his outcomes.
We've always had workstation setups in the classroom, just kind of a table against the wall with wobbly screens and what's been really great about the Community Playthings equipment is that they look like the other furniture in the classroom, so children can do their independent work but still be in, since it just looks like it was always there
in one of the classrooms where a very particular set of needs this year in terms of physical disabilities and we kind of did three or four different configurations before we got to the one that was really going to work for that class. But also then when the children and the child with that particular level of need was talking about it the next day, and he said, oh, this is amazing, thank you so much. Because I was reading in there with my friends today, and I couldn't do that before and I couldn't reach the books.
Time that they can sit and complete a task has definitely increased. They're way more focused than they were before. It makes my job a lot easier because it's lovely for me to be able to see all the children. And the classroom feels really lovely to be a part of, the friendships are building, and it's all because of the furniture, including all the children.
Since we've had the furniture installed in the classroom, one of our children with SCN is always in the reading corner with the other children. And that is what we want. We want the children to be integrating together.
And we thought some of our classrooms are really quite small. And actually seeing the Community Playthings equipment, zoning off areas of the classroom has really made our small classrooms feel bigger. So that argument of, oh, well, their workstation is in the corridor because there isn't room for it, actually, no, that doesn't need to be the case at all.
And for us, it goes back to the vision of the school, which is about love, equality and compassion. And it's about who you choose to value in your community.