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Aspire School, Kent

Written by on . Posted in Case Studies
Aspire School, Kent

“It was one of the best decisions we have made!” - Neil Dipple, Headteacher at Aspire School.

Aspire School in Sittingbourne, Kent, is a special free school that caters for children aged 4 to 11 years. Opening its doors in 2020,  the school has welcomed 32 pupils so far, with plans to extend to 160 children over the next four years. 

The curriculum reflects the full range of pupils' needs and is tailored to their individual starting points. When it is running at full capacity, there will be 21 classes with two to three teaching assistants. 

Run by Grove Park Academies Trust, Aspire School specifically caters for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other severe speech and language difficulties.

Neil explained that the name of the school was chosen because of the school’s ethos - they believe that all children can aspire to great things, despite any barriers they may face.

The school was designed by architect Bond Bryan and built by BAM - the construction company has worked on more than 100 major projects in Kent since 1877. It recently completed four special educational needs schools in the county.

Aspire School came into existence because of the vision of parents in the local area, as long ago as 2013. There was an increased need in the area for a special school, and it was designed based on the specific requirements of the children who were to attend.

The school's aim was to install a sensory room that offered both multi-sensory experiences, as well as a starting point for learning. Because of this, an immersive space was the perfect option.

Experia was invited to visit the school to discuss their wants and desires for the space. We worked closely with Aspire School to create the perfect sensory space for pupils. Installed by ourselves in March 2021, the school’s Immersive Room has been an amazing success, and is loved by  teachers and pupils alike.

Our team member Gareth stated, “Neil knew exactly what he wanted to achieve from the room. He didn't want a sensory room, he wanted something that could be a sensory room, but so much more!” Neil’s clear vision of the space gave us the perfect starting point for designing the room specifically for the school’s needs.

Despite the room being the perfect shape for an Immersive space, it does have an obstruction which would cause a problem for many companies - a door! We overcame this obstruction by working closely with the school and making some small adjustments. We also changed the wall colour, floor covering, ceiling colour, and provided an electrical plan to local contractors. This ensured the room would be the perfect space, despite having obstruction issues to begin with.

Once the room was installed, we worked closely with Aspire School to create specific content tailored for them. Neil stated, “It is used for many different purposes.” The uses of the room are extensive, from being a calm environment for pupils to relax, to introducing them to new topics and experiences that they may have never encountered before. 

Pupils are captivated by many different aspects of the room. Neil explained that “many different scenes are popular with different groups of children. Some children like the cause and effect scenes, such as the fish or firework interactive scenes. Some of our children prefer the free-roaming environments that they can explore.” 

“I would thoroughly recommend it” stated Neil, who explained that the space has increased pupil engagement, as well as made the children extremely happy! The diversity of our content means that there is something for every child to enjoy and take part in.

An Immersive Space is a valuable teaching tool for special education that allows pupils to experience learning in new ways, while fully supporting the curriculum. Its multi-sensory experiences also make the space perfect for relaxation and re-regulation. 

For more information on the immersive space, check out the Aspire School's website.

If your pupils deserve a room like this, contact us on 0800 612 6077 or email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

You can also fill out our contact form here.