Christal Bratley is a Documentation and Compliance Analyst at Triland Metals in London. For her Act of Kindness, she is supporting school children struggling with mainstream education due to various circumstances, such as disability, autism, other mental health issues, bullying, short- or long-term illness, and/or challenging behavioural issues.
She is working with Aspire AP and Kat Stern, a behavioural and education consultant, to establish a sensory breakout room at a non-mainstream school (a Pupil Referral Unit). This allows students the opportunity to discover a way to manage any challenging situations and establish a 'safe place' to learn how to manage their tension, fear, stress, anxiety or aggression. Helping them learn to regulate their physical and emotional responses supports their reintegration back into mainstream schooling, as well as increasing their capacity to study in school and achieve educational qualifications.
When students access the sensory room, they can seek counsel from the specialist support officer who runs the room. Testing the impact of the room in a rigorous manner will enable the intervention to be tailored, and ultimately shared with others who work with vulnerable children.
There has been exciting development in this project with a flurry of activity in clearing out a workshop to dedicate to this sensory room, painting walls and constructing furniture, as well as shopping for all the different sensory items that underwent joyful testing and ‘quality control’. Students expressed delight in seeing giant beanbags being hauled into their space and the afternoon well spent in feeling the effects of weighted blankets, gel packs and aromatherapy scent squares.
Conversations with the consultant and the school’s principal gave rise to new opportunities being discovered for teaching assistants to broaden their skillset from traditional teaching and classroom management, with a sense of great anticipation in what is to come.
Christal Bratley said: 'I believe this project will have a very positive impact on the lives of school children who are not suited to mainstream education, but for whom there is much stigma and little funding. It will help address neurological and behavioural disadvantages in ways that can connect and relate, and ultimately, make a huge life-impacting difference'.
Sarah Jones, Executive Head Teacher of Aspire AP said: “At Aspire we are all so excited and very grateful to be partnering with Triland and Kat Stern on this project. I have used sensory rooms in previous schools I have led, and seen the impact they can have. When you teach a young person how to regulate their emotions, you can quite literally change their life – they are less likely to become involved in criminal behaviour, more likely to be able to have fulfilling relationships with others, and more likely to be able to succeed in education and employment. I can’t wait for the point at which I’m able to share the results of the research with you all – I am confident they will be extremely positive! Thank you again for your support.”