As part of expanding our services in Dundee, school children with additional support needs have been enjoying bespoke play sessions with our team. Play sessions with ten primary one and two pupils from Dundee's Rosebank Primary began in March. Although we are all currently closed due to COVID-19, we look forward to returning to Rosebank Primary for more play once we reopen. 

Supported by the school's Learning Care Assistant, children benefit from a range of interactive play experiences within a non-judgemental play setting, improving their motor skills, confidence and communication skills. After identifying their needs, activities vary week by week, with Rosebank pupils enjoying messy play involving everything from sand, slime and water to foam and feathers, as well activities with building blocks, puzzles and other games.

Jennifer Heffell, headteacher at Rosebank Primary School, believes The Yard activities are transformational.

“For children who are sensitive to noise or struggle with their motor skills, it can be difficult to play in a larger, mainstream setting like a playground, gym hall or even just a standard classroom. It‘s been amazing watching the children interact with The Yard team in a smaller group setting – they’re still with their peers but also experts who spend their days supporting and playing with children with additional needs.

“No one is judged, there’s a huge emphasis on free play, expressing themselves and exploring, creating huge benefits for their confidence and social skills. It’s transformational – they come back into the class more relaxed and ready to learn, developing their concentration skills, patience and self belief. We as a school are also gaining some brilliant ideas and strategies from The Yard team, which we can take back and replicate in the classroom.”

Since opening in 2015, The Yard Dundee has supported over 160 families from throughout Dundee, Perth and Kinross and Angus. In addition to expanding our services to schools, and providing an additional family session, The Yard Dundee also incorporates an inclusive early years service, which is open to all children from birth to five years. 

Gill Thomson, Service Development Manager, adds, “By working with small groups, we’re offering a service mainstream schools simply cannot provide in the classroom. We can do whatever suits the school, whether providing activities within the school, the pupils spending time at The Yard, or a combination of the two. We can also tailor our activities to what the rest of the class is doing, but adapted to those who struggle a little. These small steps can be quite life-changing, with children realising they CAN do something, enjoy it and learn from it.”

Learn more about our Dundee schools service.