Empowering through advice,
sensory equipment, and toys

Designing Neurodivergent Affirming Spaces

11 Jun, 2024
Designing Neurodivergent Affirming Spaces - Specialist Provisions in Mainstream Schools (SPiM)

Specialist Provision in Mainstream Schools (SPiM)

 

So, what is SPiM? I'm glad you asked...

SPiM stands for 'Specialist Provision in Mainstream Schools' (SPiM)

These spaces aim to fill the gaps in existing specialist provision in mainstream schools by providing additional suitable provision for future needs of children and young people with special educational needs.              

  • SPL: Specialist Provision (Learning)  
  • SPEYF: Specialist Provision (Early Years and Foundation)  
  • SPSC: Specialist Provision (Social Communication / Autism)   

We are here to support you along this journey, from making your SPiM room selection, to finalising your SPiM room completion. All with the aim of meeting the needs of your pupils.  

Every SPiM room is unique to each organisation but see below a layout inspired by guidance from EA advisors. 

 

SENSORY AREAS
 
Creating a calming sensory area, whether it is within a room or you have a dedicated room for it, is vitally important as it can help regulate, relax and recharge pupils. Enabling them to feel more themselves and more comfortable within their environment. A 'Sensory Time for Me ' or 'Feel Good Spaces' are for anyone who feels overwhelmed, anxious, or out of sorts. It's particularly beneficial for individuals with autism, ADHD, sensory processing needs, or anxiety.
 
 
 
 
 
Discover a range of portable sensory products designed to provide on-the-go sensory experiences. Our collection offers a variety of sensory toys, tools, and accessories that are compact, lightweight, and easy to transport from classroom to clasroom.

From fidget toys and tactile sensory balls to visual stimulation tools and auditory devices, we have options to engage multiple senses and promote relaxation, focus, and sensory exploration.

 

edenderry sensory room

Image taken at Edenderry Primary School for Sensory Room inspiration
 
 
HORSESHOE TABLES

Horseshoe Tables are excellent for both snack time and focused teaching. Their unique shape fosters a sense of community and inclusion, making them ideal for group activities and interactive learning. Additionally, the design allows educators to easily engage with each student, promoting effective communication and personalized instruction.  

Click on the image to view our range of Horseshoe Tables for classrooms

FOCUS / MYSPACE TABLES 

Focus Tables are designed to minimize distractions, creating an optimal environment for concentration learning and organisation. These tables help students maintain their attention on individual tasks by providing personal spaces, resulting in reduced visual and auditory interruptions.  

  1. Reduced Distractions: Dividers and personal spaces help minimize visual and auditory distractions, creating a calm and controlled environment conducive to learning. 
  2. Enhanced Concentration: By limiting external stimuli, focus tables enable students with to concentrate better on their tasks, leading to improved comprehension and productivity. 
  3. Personalized Learning Space: Each student has a dedicated area, which can be customized to suit their specific needs and preferences, fostering a sense of security, ownership and reduce anxiety. 
  4. Improved Organization: Focus tables help students stay organized, as the defined space can be arranged with essential materials and tools, reducing the likelihood of sensory overload. 
  5. Facilitated Teacher Interaction: The design of focus tables allows educators to easily observe and interact with each student, providing timely support and tailored instruction. 
  6. Enhanced Social Skills: Focus tables provide individual spaces for each student, but they also facilitate structured group activities. This setup encourages social interaction and collaborative learning in a controlled environment, helping students develop social skills while maintaining a sense of order and focus. 


Image shown is taken from Flemming Fulton as an example of how dividers can be used

We have also added less expensive options of dividers to our range which create effective focus spaces for a wider variety to suit all budgets. 

 

Click on image to view our full range of Task Tables & Study Carrells

CLASSROOM WORK TABLES

Explore our Classroom Tables and Desks collection at Learning SPACE, featuring a diverse range of options to suit any learning environment. From versatile group tables to height-adjustable desks tailored for different age groups, we offer a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate various classroom layouts and teaching styles.

Our tables are designed with durability, functionality, and ergonomic considerations in mind, ensuring optimal learning experiences for students. Browse now to find the perfect classroom tables and desks to create dynamic and engaging learning spaces.

Click on the image below (taken at Edenderry Primary School) to explore a variety of colours, styles, sizes and design choices. If you don't find exactly what you're looking for, don't worry - contact us! Thanks to our close relationships with suppliers, we can offer access to an even broader selection and ensure you find the perfect table to suit your needs. 

Classroom Work Tables - Edenderry Primary SchoolClick on this image to view our full range of Classroom Work Tables

CHAIRS

So, you've chosen your tables, so what about chairs, I hear you ask...

We have a wide range of chairs to suit all settings. Such as Postura, Milan and Thrifty to mention a few. 

An example is Postura, the most trusted name in education. These vibrant chairs, renowned for their comfort, durability and versatility, set the benchmark for creating joyful, healthy and dynamic learning spaces. Available in various colours and styles, these chairs are robust, stain resistant, antistatic and exceptionally easy to clean. They are made in the UK with a 20 year warranty!

Interesting to note Postura+ chairs are now made with at least 30% recycled polypropylene and KI plans to increase this percentage to reach 50% in the next few months, and ultimately 80-100% in the future! 

Postura+ Chairs Click on this image to view our full range of Postura+ Chairs

 

The Postura+ Chairs are easily stackable for functional transportation and optimal storage solutions! (Plus, the colours are super cool and funky!)

Postura+ Chairs stacked

Click on this image to view our full range of Postura+ Chairs

 

MOVEMENT CHAIRS AND ACCESSORIES

Movement within learning spaces is crucial for children's learning and development. It has a multitude of positive benefits on physical, cognitive, and emotional development, improving concentration and observed behaviours, 

“Where we build movement into learning, outcomes improve.” - Professor Stephen Heppell.

BENEFITS OF ROCKING

Dynamic seating improves a child’s ability to pay attention. The body and mind are designed for dynamic movement, therfore, the ZUMA Rocker Chair provides movement experiences that allow the student the input they need to maintain attention without being disruptive to the natural environment of the classroom.

Zuma Rocker Chair Click on this image to view our range of ZUMA Rocker Chairs - With and Without Arms - Small and Large - Green and Blue 

Children instinctively know what’s good for their bodies, which is why they don’t stay still for long.  Fidgeting, stretching, leaning back in their chairs are all attempts to find a healthier and more comfortable position. That's why the ZUMA Rocker Chair is so popular in school settings! 

Discover our collection of Movement Chairs and Accessories at Learning SPACE, designed to enhance focus and posture through active sitting. Our range includes wiggle seat cushions, bouncy bands for fidgeting while seated, and chairs that swivel, wobble, spin, or roll.

bouncybandClick on this image to view our full range of Movement Chairs and Accessories

These products provide dynamic seating options that support physical activity and sensory needs. Shop now to find the perfect movement chairs and accessories for active, engaged, and comfortable sitting!

 

SOFTSEATING, MODULAR, BEANBAGS AND CUSHIONS

Introducing Soft Seating is a great way to define individual space and create cosy and safe areas. Utilizing soft seating options such as modular furniture, beanbags and cushions is an excellent way to define individual spaces and create cozy, safe areas within a learning environment. These elements can significantly enhance the comfort and appeal of a classroom, making it a more inviting place for students.

 

soft seating bean bags

Click on this image to view our full range of Bean Bag, Cushion & Modular Seating

Additionally, Nooks, Dens and Reading Areas provide dedicated, comfortable spots for quiet activities, encouraging a love for reading and a sense of personal space. These strategies not only improve organization and control but also contribute to a supportive and nurturing atmosphere that promotes student well-being and engagement. 

These products are designed to provide a serene and comfortable reading space, encouraging a love for books and quiet time.

 

Reading nookImage taken from Edenderry Primary School for some inspiration

 

Encourage young readers in your cosy nooks and reading areas by adding fun stickers and quotes to the walls! 

 

reading quoteClick on this image to view our full range of reading inspiration for children

 

Transform your space with our Nooks, Dens & Reading Areas collection at Learning SPACE. Perfect for creating cosy, inviting environments, our range includes dark dens, bean bags, comfy egg chairs, bookcases, reading dens, and hideaway nooks.

Explore our extensive collection designed to create an appealing and inviting space for all pupils! And remember, if you don't see exactly what you're looking for, let us know, we can help tailor an area suitable for your pupils needs and your space in mind!

Reading nook libraryClick on this image to view our full range of Nooks, Dens & Reading Areas

 

ZONING STORAGE, SHELVES, TROLLEYS, TRAYS

Lets talk a bit about storage... because let's be honest, we all love a cohesive and comfortable space but it has to be practical too, right?

Our range of storage solutions, including shelves, trolleys, and trays in a variety of colours, is perfect for organising and creating distinct zones within any space. These options not only enhance organization but also add vibrant, functional elements to the environment. 

Storage: Trolleys, Shelves & TraysImage taken from Edenderry Primary School of their easy storage solution, available at Learning SPACE

*TOP TIP 
I specially ordered 10 different colours so of these trays so that each child could have a dedicated colour for the following areas. This really helps them with their organisation and ownership of work. - SC1 Mrs L Watson Edenderry Primary School
 

storage solution with bookshelfClick on this image to view our full range of Storage, Trolleys, Shelves and Trays

 

ZONING DIVIDERS

Our Collection of Dividers, Partitions and Barriers are perfect for Classrooms where a separate area is needed to be a play area or even a quiet reading area to try and help keep things tidy and organised, at last for a little while. These separators are great for children to have their own space to play

Dividers are also an excellent way to create distinct zones within a space while also serving as informative and attractive displays for information and schedules.  

dividerPhoto taken at Crumlin Intergrated Primary School in Communication Class - these dividers are available at Learning SPACE

zoning areaClick on this image to view our full range of Zoning Shelves & Dividers

 

SOFA, ARMCHAIRS, COFFEE TABLES   

Incorporating sofas, armchairs, and coffee tables help create homely, comfortable spaces within a learning environment. These pieces of furniture provide a familiar and inviting atmosphere, making the space feel more like a welcoming home rather than a traditional classroom.

This approach can foster a sense of comfort and relaxation for both pupils and teachers, encouraging engagement and collaboration in a warm, supportive setting. Depending on settings needs, we provide both adult and child sizes. 

 coffee table

 Click on this image to view our full range of Sofas, Armchairs & Coffee Tables

 

PLAY & ROLE-PLAY AREAS

Ignite your senses through immersive storytelling, role-playing, and interactive games. Unleash creativity as you craft, visualize, and embody characters from diverse realms. Engage auditory senses with captivating narratives, and delight in visual wonders that breathe life into make-believe.

Tactile experiences abound, from crafting props to textured surfaces. Explore culinary journeys and whimsical scents that heighten taste and smell. Pretend Play invites all, young and young-at-heart, to embrace the extraordinary by turning the ordinary into a realm of endless possibilities.

role playClick on this image to view our full range of Role-Play products

 

RUGS

Enhance your space with our premium Rugs collection at Learning SPACE. Crafted from the finest materials, our rugs are designed for high-use areas, ensuring durability and comfort.

Explore our range, featuring innovative options like fibre optic light-up rugs and small world road map play rugs, perfect for sparking imagination and exploration. Create inviting classroom floor seating areas with our placement rugs, or engage young learners with sensory play mats.

Discover the perfect rug to complement any space, adding warmth and style while fostering creativity and sensory development. Shop now for the ultimate rug experience!

Rugs are an excellent way to define spaces and, with certain designs, can even indicate specific seating areas. They're soft, comfortable and homely.   

rug collection numbers

Click on this image to view our full range of Rugs

CLOAKROOMS

The cloakroom serves as the initial space a child encounters before entering the classroom, making it crucial in fostering a sense of calm and organization. Clearly designated areas within the cloakroom, adorned with bright colours, play a pivotal role. They not only provide guidance on where to store items like coats and boots but also have a positive impact, setting a welcoming tone for the learning environment. 

Organize your space with our Cloakroom Furniture collection at Learning SPACE. Discover a range of coat hooks, bag cubbies, and shoe storage solutions designed to streamline your cloakroom area. Keep belongings tidy and easily accessible with our practical and durable furniture pieces. Ideal for schools, nurseries, and activity centres, our cloakroom furniture helps maintain order and efficiency in high-traffic areas. Explore now to create a well-organized cloakroom that meets the needs of your space.

cloakroomClick on this image to view our full range of Cloakroom Furniture

 
 
WALL, CEILING & FLOOR STICKERS
 
Transforming spaces with wall, ceiling or floor stickers is an exciting way to create scenes, promote positive mindsets and encourage movement. 
 
Dive into a world of creativity with our wide range of interesting and exciting stickers! Perfect for classrooms and sensory rooms, our stickers add magic and excitement to any space. Transform your environment with our fun and engaging sticker collection!
 
wall stickers
Click on this image to view our full rane of Wall, Ceiling and Floor Stickers

 

We're happy to help you along this journey of creating meaningful SPiM spaces. We will call and arrange appointments to visit schools, we will access the room and do a site survey, liaising with the Education Authority on electric placement and room set up, ultimately ensuring you get a room fit for purpose.

Bespoke, practical and functional SPiM spaces for all your needs, come to Learning SPACE - where products meets needs. 

 

Here to help....

As a past Northern Ireland Teacher, I understand the pain points when trying to source the right resources to support needs. This, alongside supporting my sisters needs who has Soto Syndrome, lead me to create Learning SPACE with my sisters Mary and Naomh. I myself was diagnosed with Autism at 38, which made a major impact on my life as it gave me greater clarity and understanding of myself. 

 

McAleer Sisters

McAleer sisters - from left to right: Mary Leonard, Naomh Judson, Lorraine McAleer, Emma McAleer.

Now, fast forward to the present day, and we have a passionate, experienced team of 13 individuals who are highly driven to meet the needs of those who require additional support - something we are so dedicated to and proud of with the aim to strive to help as many individuals as we can each and every day. 

Our key focus is - 'Empowering and enabling children so that no matter what their needs are, they feel valued, resilient and happy'.

Logo

Lorraine, Mary, Naomh and the Team at Learning SPACE.

Contact us:

02890 319 360

SPiM@learningspaceuk.co.uk