Pupils at Addington School are having outdoor fun in their new sensory garden which opened last week. Funded jointly by Wokingham Borough Council and fundraising by Addington Association, the £70,000 project gives opportunities for children to play and learn in a sensory environment that has been designed to be accessible and engaging.
Based in Woodley, Addington School is purpose built as a specialist school for children aged three to 19 with special educational needs and disabilities. The garden was designed and installed by Green Play Projects, with lots of features to make sure that the space could be enjoyed by all. Included in this are a friendship slide, which enables staff to go down with children, raised sandpit that has space to accommodate wheelchair users underneath and an archway just the right size for a wheelchair user.
Dawn is a member of the Addington Association and has a longstanding relationship with the school, with her 18-year-old son Luke starting there when he was five. Dawn said: “The school is wonderful, and I can’t believe that his time there is coming to an end. He started at the school non-verbal, now he’s in sixth form and doing an internship at Royal Berkshire Hospital.
“I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to help Addington Association fundraise for the sensory garden, as it gives back a little bit to say thank you.”
Headteacher Sara Attra added: “The space is amazing for the children, there is something for them all to enjoy. The soft flooring means that children who aren’t able to walk are safe to crawl and we have spinning swings which our children with autism can use for self-regulation. Our nest swing is low enough that one of our children who uses a wheelchair can get out of his chair and crawl onto the swing himself.
“The design means that children are able to explore and enjoy the space in a more independent way than other spaces offer, which is so important for their learning and self-esteem.”
Cllr Graham Howe, executive member for children’s services, visited Addington School to see the new sensory garden and said: “It was fantastic to see the children enjoying playing in the new sensory garden. They clearly were getting a lot of enjoyment out of the space and I’m pleased the council could support the school to have it built.
“Schools like Addington are so important for our children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and you could see the hard-work and dedication Ms Attra and her team put into caring for and teaching their pupils. The sensory garden is a great addition to the school.”