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Learning from other sectors

17 Oct 2023
SEND Stage

Do You See What I See?
Richard Mazuch, Head of Design Research & Paul Turpin, UK Education Lead, Arcadis

How our Neural Landscapes will lead to Better Integration of our SEND estate

Any successful management team in any setting will look to understand the individual, to see what’s under the lid, to maximise the power of the individual. This is none more important than a SEND setting if we are to bridge the societal gap and provide better integration. With 1 in 7 people considered neuro divergent, including some of the best minds from history, there are challenges within daily living across the neural landscape where we all think differently and have different sensory scales.

Using significant paediatric knowledge and insights predominantly from healthcare settings, evidence based research through Th!nk, and global insights including Synesthesia and Snoezelen, we will explain how neurodiversity broadens our understanding of the individual and how this understanding informs decisions we can make at all levels of planning that can make a material difference to the integration of all our children. This includes:

  • Macro: how strategic urban planning can assist in closing the gap, make children feel integrated into society through all education stages.
  • Meso: school initiatives that integrate with local community
  • Micro: a blueprint for teachers, helping curate and choreograph the education setting
  • Neuro: the state of mind; nature or nurture

Moments of joy: Designing for a child’s experience in education and healthcare settings
Alex Abbey, Project Director, Architect, Cullinan Studio

We will present two case studies we have designed, to outline the principles adopted to promote better learning and health outcomes for pupils and staff around the following themes:

  • ‘Moments of joy’: Designing for a child’s experience
  • Designing to empowering the mental wellbeing of staff
  • Connecting to nature
  • Designing to achieve net zero

Beormund Primary School, London Borough of Southwark (RIBA Stage 4)
Beormund School is a new build primary school for 56 pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs. As such, it has very special requirements.

Pupils often have a disassociation to education and might have been excluded from mainstream settings. It is designed to be a place to which they can form a positive emotional connection and enjoy learning. Prioritising the experience of the school building for children, teachers and its community – provides clear examples of concepts that can be applied to any new educational institution.

The Catkin Centre and Sunflower House, Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool (RIBA Stage 5)
Alder Hey will be the first children’s hospital in Europe to be integrated within a new park – creating a 21st century Health Campus as a possible blueprint for the future of the NHS.

The Catkin Centre and Sunflower House stand as an innovative, joined-up approach to the treatment of physical and mental health for children and young adults aged 5-20, bringing together CAMHS, Psychology, Paediatric and Neuro-Assessment departments, along with a Dewi Jones residential care building, incorporating a small school. These facilities, currently scattered across the hospital site and the city, will now form a crucible for mental healthcare excellence. Consultation with the children and staff, revealed a clear aspiration for it to be the best place imaginable – ‘a Ritz experience for the children’ as one of the clinicians put it.


Ben Sutcliffe, Director of Executive Projects - Caudwell Children
Richard Mazuch, Head of Design Research - Arcadis
Paul Turpin, Learning+ UK Lead - Arcadis
Alex Abbey, Project Director, Architect - Cullinan Studio



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