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Adapting Design for all SEND Requirements

18 Oct 2022

SEND Schools: Should one size fit all? - Zane Putne, Noviun

There are four broad types of need in special educational need (SEN) settings as widely recognised in the industry: communication and interaction, cognition and learning, social, emotional and mental health difficulties, sensory and/or physical needs. Each of these pose various challenges to how the design of educational environments can assist the teaching of SEND pupils and what additional considerations should be addressed. The presentation will look at the overarching requirements for each type of needs as well as sharing the design tools on how to address these, helping to create suitable and adaptable learning environments where pupils can achieve their potential.

The presentation will look at two special educational needs schools and assess how the standardisation and a one design approach can be adapted between different levels of needs should the cohorts change and for futureproofing. The presentation will conclude on the lessons learnt from these projects.

Designing for deaf children - Peter Gale, Principal, Mary Hare School & Andrew Fifield, ArchitecturePLB

Mary Hare is a boarding and day school for deaf children, with secondary and primary schools currently located on two separate sites to the north and south of Newbury, Berkshire. The school is the largest school for the deaf in the UK taking both day and boarding pupils and the school uses the oral communication method pioneered by Mary Hare. The primary school and boarding house are being relocated from their existing home in a Grade II listed manor house to new purpose designed buildings on the secondary school campus at Arlington Manor. The buildings are due for completion and occupation in September this year.

Peter Gale, Mary Hare’s Principal, has been involved in the project right the way through from its inception in 2016. Peter will talk from the perspective of the pupils, for whom Mary Hare School provides a place where they can literally find their voice, the mainstream school environment having proved unable to meet their specific needs. Peter is a strong advocate of the oral communication method as enabling deaf young people to gain confidence, to be heard, and to be equipped to be fully included in the world beyond school.

Andrew Fifield has also been involved from the beginning, helping to develop the brief, produce concept designs, hold workshops with school staff and pupils, and speak at fundraising events. Andrew will talk about how the design of the building has been informed by an understanding of what it means to be profoundly deaf; the importance of excellent acoustics, natural light, clear lines of site, external spaces that help activate tactile and kinaesthetic senses and a domestic scale environment that helps engender a sense of belonging.

The Deaf Academy: Learning from the Inhabitants - Danny Harris, Head of Schools & Colleges, Stride Treglown

The Deaf Academy in Exmouth is a world-leading bespoke new school for Deaf young people, designed and delivered by Stride Treglown. The unique brief followed the school’s guiding philosophy of ‘reverse inclusion’ – prioritising the needs of Deaf and Disabled students and then reverse engineering the resulting design for hearing people.

We engaged extensively with the client team and key members of staff to develop the brief in line with DeafSpace standards. The engagement earned us valuable insight into the extent to which Deaf people’s experience of learning, holding conversations, privacy, acoustics, and safety are critically mediated by the physical environment.

Now the building has been in use for over a year, we have undertaken a collection of interviews with the building’s inhabitants - the true judges of the spaces and places we create. This presentation sets out the key outcomes.


Lucy Plumridge, Associate Director - HLM Architects
Zane Putne, Senior Architect - Noviun Architects
Peter Gale, Principal Consultant - Mary Hare School
Andrew Fifield, Associate Director - ArchitecturePLB
Danny Harris, Head of Schools & Colleges - Stride Treglown



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