Serenity Sensory Garden Group, Rock Ferry Primary School


Your story

A group of volunteers working on behalf of the school with a vision of turning an overgrown outdoor area within the school grounds into a calming ‘Serenity Sensory Garden’.

Group introduction

We are Rock Ferry Primary School, a larger than average size urban primary school, formed in 1911 and situated on the banks of the River Mersey near to the old ship building factory Camell Lairds. The school is situated in a highly urbanized area with little access to outdoor garden areas. Our Headteacher Ms Sara Radley, took up post at the school in 2014 and has worked tirelessly to create a school which provides a sanctuary for the pupils. We would like to extend this to an outdoor area of the school, by introducing a Serenity Sanctuary Garden. We are looking to create an area that will provide a much needed sensory space in which children can spend time and engage in a range of quiet / calming activities during periods of stress or anxiousness.

The following information is provided to give an insight into just some of the issues / problems facing our school. Our school population of 341 is predominantly White British and are recognized as living within the highest 20% of social deprivation in the country and 41% of pupils are entitled to Free School Meals.

The proportion of children with additional learning and emotional needs is well above the national average and currently stands at 32.8%. This is reflected in the number of children and families who engage with our Family Support Worker and receive support through Team Around Family and other external agencies, including Social Care.

At writing the school had 12 pupils on child protection plans, 6 children at CIN, 1 family supported by the Catholic Children’s Society, and 12 children accessing the school’s volunteer counsellor service.

We have recently invested in a 2 year contract with a children's mental health charity called Place2be, which offers counselling and support for the children, with the aim of breaking down their barriers to learning.

The school has significantly higher than average SEN pupils with 95 pupils currently on the register, with only 20% schools nationally having a higher % of SA+ (RoL table 1.1.1).

Children enter the school with low Starting Points in all areas, but particularly in Personal and Social Development (PSD) language and communication.

Home circumstances for many of the children result in experiential disadvantage, emotional needs and some lack of parental confidence and engagement.

Increasingly we are getting more children receiving a diagnosis for ASD, having access to a Serenity Sensory Garden would be of great benefit to not only these children but also to many of the children who fall into the categories listed above.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

Impact on Community:
If we were fortunate enough to receive an award we would spend the money on clearing the ground, cutting back the existing shrubbery and creating a Sanctuary Sensory Area which would include;

• Wooden chimes
• Water feature
• Bird baths
• Herbs – for fragrance
• Bird feeders
• Sand
• Wooden toadstools
• Wooden stepping stones
• Willow fencing – into which the children can weave their worries/fears/concerns
• Coloured windmills / ribbons

As well as all 341 children who currently attend our school having access to the area, parents and pre-school children from our local Children’s Centre would have access to the facility. We would also engage with the local library service / authors and look to host themed storytelling events for classes, in what we envisage would become a magical area. The Serenity Sanctuary Garden would become a legacy for all the children who would be attending our school for years to come.

Following its creation we will establish a maintenance team, consisting of pupils, staff, parents and volunteers from the wider community who will meet regularly to ensure the upkeep of the area. We feel that this will give pupils and parents an opportunity to become interested in their environment and allow school to forge stronger links with the local community.

It has been well documented that sensory areas are particularly beneficial to children with attention deficiency orders – of which there are many within our school. Overactive children would be calmed by the environment, whilst inactive children would be stimulated.

The children would learn that the Sensory Sanctuary Garden could be used as a place of rest or as a place of comfort, the idea being that taking some time out in the area would prevent matters from escalating, meaning that children could then return to their learning, in a relaxed, more positive frame of mind.

"Skipton Buidling Society Grassroots Funding would allow Rock Ferry Primary to realise its vision for a Sanctuary Sensory Garden, the garden would provide a much needed sensory space in which children can spend time and engage in a range of quiet / calming activities during periods of stress or anxiousness.

Ms Sara Radley, Headteacher"

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