Support the Royal Blind School's Courtyards Project

Posted: 21/11/2017 | Education,

The Royal Blind School is launching a campaign to transform its outdoor spaces to create inspiring and engaging outdoor areas for learning and play.

Pupil Lolly laughing Pupils and staff have produced a plan for four themed courtyards – each of which will provide a different experience for students.

The courtyards are currently underused, but the vision for their future is to create an extension of the school’s interactive classroom environment, where pupils can safely enjoy being outdoors.

The four spaces will be transformed into; an active play area, sensory play area, agricultural kitchen garden and chill out zone for older pupils.

The school needs £40,000 to transform the courtyards. Help make this plan a reality by supporting the Courtyard Appeal here.

The Sensory Garden

All of our pupils have a visual impairment, meaning it is important to ensure that learning and play engage other senses. In the sensory garden pupils will explore sounds, textures, and different materials, there will be water features and sand play areas, as well as ‘talking tubes’ and an area to learn through touch. Many of our pupils are not able to tie their own shoelaces, therefore in order to build these kinds of skills we will have a wall with zips, laces, buttons, locks and keys, encouraging pupils to play with, learn and explore everyday items. The sensory garden will be a calmer, more creative space, providing an area for contemplation and learning.

Students diagrams of the new courtyards

Active Playground

At the moment pupils are restricted to where they can play outside as not all areas are suitable for playing all year round due to weather. The active playground area would be covered by a canopy, and the ground would be covered with a bouncy rubber floor material for safety. This will be a fun, inclusive environment designed to encourage independence. Opportunities for play, socialising and challenging physical boundaries are very important to our pupil’s development. This area will be the largest and most physically dynamic. This area will house large pieces of adapted play equipment, including an inclusive wheelchair friendly roundabout, crawl tunnel and seesaw.

Agricultural Nature Garden

This courtyard will be used to grow plants, flowers, fruit, vegetables, and herbs, and as such it will serve as an outdoor extension of home economics and science classrooms. The school aims to grow produce throughout the year, giving pupils an insight into the process of growing your own food. They will then also experience the satisfaction of cooking with those ingredients, showing the progression from ‘plant to plate.’ Staff at the school have arranged a collaboration with students from the Scottish Rural University and College. The university students will help design and build parts of the garden in this collaborative project, which can then be used in their portfolios. We will provide them with visual impairment awareness training and an opportunity to meet with our pupils, so they can design an environment which meets their needs.

Chill Out Zone

The smallest courtyard will become the Chill Out Zone – somewhere for older pupils to have space to themselves to play music and games. Due to the widely varying ages of our pupils, our older pupils don’t have a designated common room or space as they would in a mainstream school. The Chill Out Zone will provide an opportunity for older pupils to have some space for their own independent socialising, which is a hugely important part of pupils transitioning to life beyond the Royal Blind School.