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Royal Opera House partnership helps create sensory area
Sensory shed at Glenwood School in Benfleet
The school's learners have helped to transform the sheds

A sensory area using garden sheds at a special school in Benfleet has been created through a partnership with the Royal Opera House.

The area at Glenwood School has been designed specifically to stimulate the school's 101 children who have profound and multiple learning difficulties.

The project has been aided by funding and expertise from the Royal Opera House Creative Partnerships Programme.

Pupils and teachers have worked with a local artist to create the facility.

The area currently comprises two garden sheds which have been decorated to give the school's learners, aged between three and 19-years-old, an outdoor space they can benefit from.

"We've decorated them in tactile ways so that they're all sensory based and our children can all access them," said teacher and project leader Lyndsay Richardson.

"It's a case of touch them and you get a reward through sound or sight.

"Our youngsters can't entertain themselves, they need to access the rest of the world through us and through our ideas.

"If we can put things in place that can stimulate them and they get the idea of what to do, then they can move on with that."

Currently the 'Little Shed Village' has two sheds, but the school hope to have two or three more donated which can also be converted.

One has been turned into a 'graffiti house' where the learners can write on the walls with chalk, whilst the other has shiny surfaces, colourful portholes and noisy windmills attached to the roof.

A third shed will soon be added and a record company is to donate around 300 CDs which will be hung in the trees to add an extra element to the area.

The project has been aided by the Royal Opera House's Creative Partnership Programme.

Sound artist, Iris Garrelfs, is the designated creative agent working on the project.

"The learners, who are unable to do much by themselves, are stimulated and have some enjoyment from out here," she said.

Interior of one of the sensory sheds
The ongoing project will see the interiors added to

"A lot of this has been teacher's ideas, working with the children, so a lot of their ownideas as well."

This project is one of five that Iris has been working on with schools around Essex.

She explained how projects like this are not only hugely beneficial to the school, but also to the artists.

"I feel that I am doing something worthwhile with my creativity and the talents that I have in organising things. That's fantastic," she said.

"They're amazing and I'm not just saying that, it's really true.

"They have fantastic ideas and by providing space for them to run with it is really worthwhile."

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