School turns disused space into sensory garden with help from Bloor Homes

King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy has transformed an area of disused space into a sensory garden for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), with help from Bloor Homes.

The Academy has been working in partnership with Bloor Homes on a range of careers support initiatives, and when the topic of transforming the disused and overgrown space came up, it made sense to the developer to lend a helping hand.

Yolanda Duckworth, Careers Leader at King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy said: “Our relationship with Bloor Homes is through careers support, and that means help for all students to develop their skills, feel valued and maybe even find a vocation. 

“We have a number of SEND pupils at the school and we wanted them to have a dedicated outdoor sensory space which will be hugely beneficial to them, especially in the warmer months. Pupils will have responsibilities in maintaining the space to give a sense of ownership and they will develop skills by looking after it through the seasons. We are all aware of the mental and physical benefits spending time outdoors can bring, and we have no doubt the garden will have a positive impact on our pupils.

“Bloor Homes has been extremely helpful with this project. The transformation from where the space was, to where it is now has already made such a difference; we really are pleased with the results. We’re looking forward to working with the pupils to plan the planting, and they are looking forward to having more time in the garden as the weather improves.” 

Working with its landscaping experts, Bloor Homes helped the King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy finalise its design, sourced materials, cleared the area and delivered the garden. The company also made a topping-up donation, adding to the money already raised by the Academy Trust to ensure the project was completed on time and within budget.

Steve Roberts, Managing Director for Bloor Homes’ Western region, said: “This has been a great project to be involved with and plays to our strengths, both in practical terms - offering advice, providing materials and having the teams to carry out the work, and as a company which is committed to enhancing the communities we build in and leaving a legacy that is meaningful. It has been a pleasure to work on this project with the Academy, providing a space that will support and develop students now and in years to come, and we hope it has a lasting impact for both for them and for the school.”

Bloor Homes continues to support the Academy through involvement with a range of careers initiatives including a Mock Interview day, an enterprise challenge to create a “house for the future”, and by guest speaking at assemblies. Some pupils will also be visiting Bloor Homes’ apprenticeship centre to see for themselves what it is like to be an apprentice.