Ipswich’s Thomas Wolsey School unveils innovative sensory cabin for pupils after year of fundraising

The balloon release at the Thomas Wolsey School. Picture: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHY

The balloon release at the Thomas Wolsey School. Picture: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich school which caters for youngsters with complex physical and learning difficulties has unveiled its new innovative sensory cabin after a year of fundraising.

The new sensory room at the Thomas Wolsey School in Ipswich is officially opened. Picture: PAUL NIXO

The new sensory room at the Thomas Wolsey School in Ipswich is officially opened. Picture: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

The Thomas Wolsey School in Defoe Road was given £25,000 worth of sensory equipment for its pupils last year by BT and the Lord’s Taverners.

Grant requests to build a dedicated space for the equipment was turned down, prompting the school to launch a fundraising drive in October last year.

On Friday, just over a year on, the sensory cabin has been unveiled for all at the school to use.

School business manager Teresa Snowling said: “Thomas Wolsey School feel extremely fortunate to have this wonderful resource for our children to enjoy for many years to come.

Pupils and visitors enjoying the immersive experience. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Pupils and visitors enjoying the immersive experience. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“We started receiving donations from members of the community and local organisations but raising sufficient funds to build a cabin was proving very difficult.

“Fortunately a member of our school governing body knew someone who worked for ISG construction and with their help we were able to realise our dream.”


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The cabin’s multi-sensory rooms use lights, sounds and textures to help children with their learning and provide a calm space for times of difficulty.

It also allows them to experience places they may not be able to go to otherwise.

Pupils and visitors enjoying the immersive experience. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Pupils and visitors enjoying the immersive experience. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

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Ms Snowling added: “Sometimes the only way we can get a reaction from a child is when they are placed within a sensory environment and what a joy it is to see a child able to engage in this way and to maybe see a smile or a look of excitement or enjoyment on their face.”

The school has around 100 pupils aged 3-16 with complex physical or learning difficulties, often needing specialist support.

BT and the Lord’s Taverners, are supporting around 30 schools with sensory equipment.

Jonathan Legh-Smith, head of partnerships and strategic research at BT said: “As the father of a young man with special educational needs I know from personal experience how important sensory rooms are to students.

Pupils and visitors enjoying the immersive experience. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Pupils and visitors enjoying the immersive experience. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“They are a place to stimulate and learn, and for some students an essential refuge. It’s also great to see that BT’s investment also galvanised other local businesses to help in building this and other sensory rooms across the UK.”

The opening ceremony at the Thomas Wolsey School gets underway with a song from the pupils. Picture:

The opening ceremony at the Thomas Wolsey School gets underway with a song from the pupils. Picture: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

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