The purpose and direction of the school’s plan:
1a: Our Vision and Values As a school for young people with learning difficulties and additional complex needs, Clarendon is committed to the inclusion of all pupils, and to providing equal opportunities for all, regardless of learning or physical disability, gender, race, sexuality or religion.
1b The Local Authority’s Accessibility Strategy.
We support the Accessibility Strategy of Richmond upon Thames which encourages a proactive approach to improving access for pupils with disabilities.
The LA’s strategy aims to promote a proactive approach to improving access by
- ensuring that the rights of pupils with disabilities are upheld
- supporting the aims and aspirations of pupils with a disability
- improving access to information, curriculum and the environment
- creating a positive attitude towards disability and challenge negative perceptions
- developing a culture of awareness, acceptance and inclusion.
1c Governors’ role
The SEN and Disability Act 2001 extended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) to cover education. Since September 2002, the Governing Body has had three key duties towards disabled pupils, under Part 4 of the DDA:
- not to treat disabled pupils less favourably for a reason related to their disability;
- to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils, so that they are not at a substantial disadvantage;
- to plan to increase access to education for disabled pupils.
1d. Relation to School Development Plan. For relation to current SDP see Appendix 2
1e: Information from pupil data and school audit
All pupils at Clarendon have a statement of Special Educational need because of their learning disabilities. Most have additional complex needs, including recently pupils with cerebral palsy, CHARGE syndrome, Fragile X, Downs syndrome, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, sight impairments, epilepsy, major heart surgery, serious brain damage and a frontal lobotomy, who have had tumours removed, fed by gastroscopy, achondroplasia, Hirschprungs Disease, brittle bone syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Autistic Spectrum or social and communication disorders.
Over time the needs of the school population has grown increasingly complex, and staff have had continually to develop their pedagogy to meet these changing needs. There are also specific changes to the environment required as a result of the broader range of needs, including changes to classroom lighting for pupils with ASD, visual timetabling, screens etc.
One particular issue to be addressed in the future is around extra-curricular activities. Currently, after school activities are open to all, but only if they can travel independently or be collected by parents at 4.45pm.
1f: Views of those consulted during the development of the plan
An Accessibility Audit was carried out on 8 November 2013 by 3 governors, including a governor with visual impairment and the Site Manager. This resulted in an action plan which is monitored by the Premises Committee of the Governing Body.
Another Audit was carried out on 28 November by members of the School Council which added items to the Action Plan.
A visit in relation to accessibility to the Gateway Centre was carried out by a governor to assess accessibility issues and was later reported on to the Premises Committee.
Results of these audits are in Accessibility Plan Appendix 1. 2013 – 2014
2. The main priorities in the plan
- Increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the school curriculum
- Improving the physical environment of the school to increase the extent to which disabled pupils can take advantage of education and associated services:
- Improving the delivery to disabled pupils, parents or visitors of information that is provided in writing for those who are not disabled:
- In addition to the duties to pupils required by the DDA the Governing Body intends to ensure that where appropriate, every aspect of the school is fully accessible – including the web site and all signage, to staff, parents and the wider community.
3: Management, coordination and implementation
- How the governing body takes responsibility for the school accessibility plan and how and when the plan will be reviewed and revised
Governors carry out audits and monitor actions resulting from these. The Accessibility plan is regularly reviewed by the Premises, Health & Safety Committee and revised as appropriate.
- A mechanism for the evaluation of the plan
- The evidence that will be used in the evaluation of the plan.
Inspections by governors, members of staff and the Site Manager evaluate the impact and effectiveness of actions that have been recommended.
- How the plan fits with other policies and plans.
The Accessibility plan is related to the SDP and to other policies through the relevant Committees of the GB
- Details of how the plan is implemented. Details can be seen in the Minutes of the Premises and Health & Safety Committee.
Accessibility audit 8 November 2013
As part of the Accessibility Plan being prepared by the Premises and Health & Safety Committee, an audit was carried out to find out how accessible our school premises are and where there are failings to remedy.
Three governors, Beryl, Liz and Maurice went around the school with Dave Monk, our Site Manager. It was particularly helpful to have Maurice with us, as from the standpoint of a blind person, he was able to contribute valuable advice.
1. The entrance is not easy although it has recently been extended providing shelter with a good canopy over the area where pupils and visitors wait to be admitted, the bell is too high up for a wheelchair user and is located rather farther away from the door itself than is usual.
Action. Install another bell lower down and provide a sign with an image of a bell and an arrow pointing to it.
2. Wheelchair access.
Almost every room in the building has a door to the outside and every door has a step preventing independent wheelchair access unless a ramp permanent or temporary is installed. In general we found wheelchair access good, nearly all the doors with steps to the outside have ramps of the prescribed 1 in 12 incline with handrails on the most appropriate side.
The exceptions are
- the external door to corridor to DT and Food tech rooms, no.2 on the plan attached
- the external door from the bicycle maintenance workshop – no. 3 on plan
- door from staffroom – no. 4 on plan
- door from classroom – no.5 on plan
Action Install portable ramps and/or warning notices where there is not enough room for ramps.
3 Other areas of concern.
a) The double doors from the Junior Hall to the playground, no 6 on plan, have a mat in a footwell – an arrangement which is no longer considered satisfactory as the mat in place is, if new, too high, and if old, too low and presents a trip hazard. The rubber mat essential to prevent mud being tracked in, is thin and easily rucked up , and could be another trip hazard.
Action. Explore the possibility of a thicker rubber mat.
b) The unplastered wall, no. 7 on plan, projects into the passageway to the Junior classrooms. This area is now much more restricted as furniture has been brought in to provide for groups of vulnerable children to, for example, have their dinner away from the hurly-burly of the general dinner time, and a comfortably cushioned reading area. This restriction makes it more likely that children might hurt themselves against the wall. The other wall of this corridor is carpeted up to dado height and does not present any problem.
Action. Explore the possibility of some protection from the sharp edge.
c) Signage. Attention needs to be paid to the provision of adequate signage. At present some areas are clearly signed but some are not. Governors when visiting have found difficulty in locating particular classrooms until they know the building well.
Action. Install signs indicating the way to the Junior classrooms, exits and toilets.
d) Accessible toilet. We were pleased to see that the accessible toilet is being painted in a colour that is dark enough for the sanitary ware to be seen in contrast, and that the handbasin is a suitable height for wheelchair users.
We would like to complete this audit by finding out the views of pupils and staff members. We suggest asking members of the School Council to think of ways to judge the accessibility of our school, perhaps by a brief questionnaire.
We also need to consider the accessibility of our new website.
Accessibility Audit Views of pupils 28 November 2013
An important aspect of the Accessibility Plan is to make sure we have incorporated the views and experiences of all users of our premises, including pupils.
On 28 November the members of the School Council carried out a survey of the school premises, marking on a plan all instances where they considered access was prevented or limited to anybody who might be disabled in any way.
Although there are none at present there have been wheelchair users among our pupils and those carrying out the survey were very alive to the effects on independence and quality of life where access is hard or impossible.
They also came up with insightful comments and suggestions.
a) We found that most doors had ramps with well-placed handrails, but noticed the same places where this was not the case as the previous survey had identified, but also found another which the governors’ survey had not noticed – the second entrance to the Art Suite where pupils have to enter for a music lesson if the other half of the space is in use.
Action. Include this entrance in the provision of ramps and handrails.
b) The pupils also agreed that the unplastered wall in the passage to the Junior classrooms needed covering as the rough brickwork had caused some (slight) injuries in the past and could be dangerous.
Action. Explore the possibility of some protection from the sharp edge.
c) Accessible girls’ toilet. Leading off the main hall there is an accessible toilet for girls which is in itself very spacious and would be easy to use if it were not for the privacy screen. This is essential as the toilet is visible from the hall but it is fixed in such a way that leaves a gap too small for any wheelchair to pass.
Action. Explore the possibility of making the screen swing out of the way to allow access and be fixed in position, by a bolt into the floor, at other times.
d) Food technology room. Here the pupils observed that a wheelchair user could not get to the worktop as there are cupboards under the counter rather than knee space. One suggestion was that a pull-out tray might be fitted that could be in the right position for use by someone in a wheelchair.
Action. Consider the needs of wheelchair users when equipping technology rooms.
Accessibility of the Gateway Centre visit 22 January 2014
As the Centre was built in 2006 it complies with all statutory regulations for accessibility and beyond in consideration for the needs of disabled students and staff. One pupil in TwickenhamAcademy who is a wheelchair user was able to use the Centre during the period in the construction of the Academy when there was no lift to the upper floors. This has now been remedied but it indicates the good degree of accessibility for our pupils in the Centre.
At present there is still a lot of building going on, but the Centre is accessible and although not signposted as such we received clear directions when signing in to the Academy.
In relation to other aspects of Accessibility such as signage Sarah Bright reported that there are no problems needing addressing. The students supported by the Centre at present have no difficulty in reading and understanding the signs they encounter and it might be regarded as demeaning or patronizing to make special signs for them. Sarah is aware now that we have the duty to ensure adequate accessibility. We presume that TwickenhamAcademy has an up-to-date Accessibility plan and we intend to ask to see this.
Minutes of the meeting of Premises Health& Safety Committee of 21 January show governors agreed to get the necessary work done; this work includes suggestions made to enable a wheelchair-using pupil to join the school in September
“LC has completed an accessibility survey of the school with DM and with the school council.
DM to obtain quotes for work identified on survey and report back. Work includes widening of doors and making the girls’ changing room more accessible.”
Accessibility Plan : Relation to School Development Plan 2013 – 2014
As this plan intends to ensure that all aspects of our provision are fully accessible it might be said that this plan relates to all 7 Priorities of our School Development Plan;
- Raising student achievement. One aspect of this priority is identifying underachievement, and any instance of lack of accessibility, such as awkward access, poor signage is likely to contribute to underachievement.
- Links with the community. In order to foster such links our premises must be accessible to all – if our entrance bell is too high for wheelchair users or not easily noticed, this may inhibit or prevent access.
- The Gateway Centre. Any aspect of our School Development Plan concerning the Gateway Centre must ensure its accessibility, and pay attention to the particular difficulties, such as confusing or over-stimulating signage, of those students.
- The physical environment. This is the most relevant Priority to the Accessibility Plan; it is most important that not only are our premises made as fit as possible now for any disabled pupil, but that accessibility in its widest application is borne in mind when planning the new development.
- The Curriculum. In planning the delivery of the curriculum, particularly any new technological developments, attention must be paid to accessibility for all.
- Non-academic provision. As these activities are likely to take place in places other than the regular class-rooms the plan must ensure that such places are fully accessible and clearly identifies in appropriate signage.
- Consistent approach to assessment. Here, as for Priority 1. it is important to be aware that lack of accessibility may affect achievement and thus assessment.