Charity Partner: Schools Plus
Schools Plus is a national not-for-profit that believes every child has the right to the same opportunities. The organisation partners with schools to address children's unique needs and ensure they have the best start in life.
Since 2018, the Primary Club of Australia has partnered with Schools Plus to support nearly 600 children living with disabilities and/or additional learning needs across NSW, WA, SA and Victoria. The Primary Club’s support has brought joy, calm and fun learning opportunities to these children and helped them develop crucial new social and emotional skills.
At four schools, sensory environments were created to help children regulate their emotions and behaviour. For example, the Fremantle Language Development Centre developed a courtyard with a sensory and food garden, a sensory path using tactile surfaces, a cubby house and a range of toys and equipment that provide opportunities for fiddling, popping, blowing, rocking and sensory feedback.
Principal Vivienne Doig says a highlight of the courtyard are the two sensory wall murals created by local artist, Lindsay Pow, which feature pictures of Western Australian bush and hidden Australian animals.
"Students found the structured play area to be a place they could go at breaks when they felt overwhelmed.”
“The murals are tactile and the children can feel the texture of the trees, plants, flowers and animals. Finding the animals is a way of slowing the child, distracting and calming them. In addition, they are using their senses of vision, hearing and touch. The colours have been chosen for their calming effect and are matched to the cubby and sensory walk,” she says.
Two schools focused on creating safe and inviting play spaces for their students. St Andrews Public School added a bike track which has improved positive play, social interaction and students’ understanding of taking turns, while Spring Farm Public School revamped a muddy, unused space to create an inviting play area which saw an immediate and significant increase in play and social activity amongst children in the school’s support unit.
"Students found the structured play area to be a place they could go at breaks when they felt overwhelmed,” said a Spring Farm teacher.
Schools Plus has a goal of supporting new education opportunities for 150,000 children and young people in disadvantaged communities a year by 2027.