An investment into state-of-the-art sensory equipment is reaping rewards for children enrolled in the early years provision at a primary school in South East Northumberland.

Having seen the benefit of a sensory ‘safe space’ for its older pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to use during school hours, staff at William Leech C of E Primary School in Lynemouth – part of Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust, set about sourcing capital to create something similar for its youngest learners.

Often referred to as ‘reset rooms’, sensory rooms are used in two different ways; to provide a safe place for children to calm and regulate their behaviour when they become overwhelmed, or as a reward space for children where they can develop their sensory needs.

Part-funded by the school itself, an additional £500 was sourced from Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust’s Endowment Fund to complete the project.

Amy Thompson, Headteacher at William Leech C of E Primary School, commented:

“Children with SEND requirements can easily become dysregulated in classroom environments. Lights, sounds and too much activity can cause what we call ‘sensory overload’ which can result in children exhibiting behaviours which might be harmful to their wellbeing.

“Several children within our two-year old and nursery provisions have sensory needs due to SEND, some of which are quite profound, so we knew that we had to do something to ensure that there was a safe space in school for them to go to should they become distressed, angry or upset. This is beneficial for the child displaying these behaviours and also allows the other children in the setting to continue with their learning.

“The new sensory suite has proved a huge success so far. We have already seen increased engagement with activities within the suite and in the main classroom following time spent in the sensory room. Over time, we hope to see a decrease in the amount of dysregulated behaviours in school altogether.”

The new early years sensory suite at William Leech Primary features blackout blinds and a blackout tent, sensory lighting and projections, weighted lap toys and sensory table top toys, as well as soft play equipment – everything that children need to help them self-regulate and relax.

Wendy Scott, Nursery Teacher at William Leech C of E Primary School, added:

“The new sensory room is brilliant. The children are engaged and fascinated. It gives the children quality time to regulate and develop skills.”