A Doncaster disability adaptations business has partnered with accessibility consultants to offer free training to help schools meet the needs of autistic pupils.
RISE Adaptations Ltd has teamed up with Access For All UK to deliver the webinars to primary and secondary schools around the country.
Although specialist schools are available, 71 per cent of autistic pupils attend mainstream schools and the organisations aim to enhance the experiences of young people with autism in these environments.
The online training takes place in January and follows the results of a survey, conducted by RISE Adaptations, which shows a high proportion of mainstream school staff lack confidence in their ability to support pupils with autism.
The webinars will be delivered by Derbyshire-based Access For All UK founders Jane Cooper and Gillian Scotford, who have autistic children themselves. They aim to help delegates understand autism, the barriers an autistic person may face in a school setting, and the solutions to overcome those barriers effectively.
Ben Hickey, who launched RISE Adaptations in October, said: “We are constantly speaking to heads and teachers, and beyond the typical role of a Special Educational Needs Coordinator, there seems to be a real lack of confidence amongst teaching and leadership staff about the best ways of supporting pupils with autism.
“Most of the specialist autism training already available is time-consuming and costly, so we are trying to shift the model to make it more cost-effective and accessible for schools. We are thrilled to partner with Access For All UK, who are so committed to improving everyday life for children with additional needs, and we’re looking forward to the partnership developing further.”
RISE Adaptations design and install sensory rooms within schools to provide calming environments that reduce anxiety and improve focus for autistic pupils. They also work with other private and public sector organisations to provide modular and traditional build products, and despite the business being less than three months old, they are already in advanced talks with major transport providers, theme park operators, and NHS Trusts to provide sensory and changing solutions to enhance disability provision.
The school training sessions are part of bigger plans with Access For All UK, which will see the companies work together on wider provision and support for schools around autism and sensory needs.
Jane Cooper, co-founder of Access For All UK, said: “Ben has such passion about improving accessibility and our partnership is about creating the full package. We have the training background and the lived experiences, and RISE have the products – but they want to provide a full support package with them. It feels like the ideal model.
“People think of accessibility and assume it must be really expensive, but most of it is about tiny little adjustments that make a massive difference. Our children are our greatest inspiration and our greatest teachers, and we want to share what we’ve learnt over the years with others to improve learning experiences for autistic pupils.”