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An invaluable investment

Holly Grove is a Primary School for pupils aged 3-11 years with Generic Learning Difficulties. This includes pupils with Profound and Complex needs, Severe or Mild Learning Difficulties and pupils with Autism and/or Challenging Behaviour.

Initially when I discussed purchasing a Safespace for our school, some of the staff had reservations. They said, ‘It looked like a padded cell!’ Questions were asked such as ‘How would we get the children to the Safespace when they were in crisis?’ and ‘Would the children not just misbehave to get out of lessons?’

During the first 2 months the pupils were fascinated by the Safespace and therefore did initially abuse its use by consistently either misbehaving or more commonly requesting ‘time out’.

Fortunately the novelty wore off, as it did in my previous experience, and we began to see noticeable changes in the pupils’ behaviour. We no longer have to use positive handling techniques to support our pupils in crisis, as now they are simply escorted to the Safespace to calm down. The length of time they now spend in the Safespace has reduced considerably, from approximately 30 minutes to 5 minutes.

Many of our children with autism who are non-verbal have a symbol/photograph of the Safespace displayed in class, and will now remove the symbol/photograph from the board, give it to the nearest adult, and run to the Safespace, when they have identified themselves that they need to calm down. Previously when becoming anxious these pupils would grab at the nearest adult/peer and become aggressive when adults then had to use positive handling techniques to keep everyone safe.

The Safespace is also used as a ‘Blank Canvas’ for Intensive Interaction. The only stimuli in the room is the adult and therefore this encourages positive, successful interaction. All the staff and pupils at Holly Grove now agree that the Safespace has been an invaluable investment!

See more of Karen and Holly Grove School on the Safespaces Films.