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Thumbs up for extra summer activities in Brighton & Hove

This summer, in the run-up to the holidays, the Parent Carers’ Council (PaCC) asked Brighton & Hove City Council’s SEN Team to see if they could organise some extra activities over the summer for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Roger Wardle, from the SEN Team, and Zoe Anstey, from the Extended Day Services at Hill Park and Downs View special schools, joined forces to see what activities could be arranged at short notice. Lots of different organisations got involved including the Amazing Futures project, PaCC partners like T21 and Pebbles, and other local providers from across the city such as Brighton Table Tennis Club.

Thanks to this huge team effort, local children and young people with SEND were able to access exciting and stimulating activities, both online and face-to-face. There were art and multi sports sessions, Lego workshops, water play and circus workshops and more. Details of all the activities were published on the council’s SEND Local Offer.

Staff from different schools across the city supported many of the face-to-face sessions, stepping in at the last minute to help things run well.

Diana Boyd, parent carer and Vice Chair of PaCC, says: ““My son absolutely loved the multi-activity sessions, which included table tennis, football and martial arts. The staff were amazing, and it was all about making it fun for the children. Not only did this make all the difference to his summer: he has also joined the table tennis club this term, as well as doing kick-boxing sessions in the park.”

The staff were amazing, and it was all about making it fun for the children.

Turn up and Play sessions park spaces were also provided, where children and young people with SEND were given priority access from 10am to midday in parts of St Anne’s Wells Gardens, the Secret Garden in East Hill Park and the ball court area in East Brighton Park. These sessions also had school staff turning up with sports equipment, sensory materials, drumming workshops and craft activities, and engaging with children while they accessed the spaces. This meant parent carers had a chance to step back and enjoy a break or a chat with staff and other parent carers that were there.

Not surprisingly, putting a programme together at such short notice was not without its challenges. For example, everyone needed to get to grips with the Covid guidance for youth group settings (which were different to personal and school guidance) and fast! They also had to factor in additional cleaning of sites and Zoe had to make sure all equipment taken to the sessions in the park areas was regularly cleaned and cared for – even the individual Lego blocks!

But, overall, the summer programme was a huge success and the collaboration between all those involved was very positive. It’s a great foundation on which to build further out of school support for children and young people with SEND in the future.

Roger and Zoe have asked us to thank all of the organisations that were able to put the activities on at such short notice, the children, young people and families who came along and Georgina Clarke-Green from the council who allocated the funding and prioritised this area of work during a continuingly busy time of responding to the Covid situation.

The picture shows Elliot practising his bat and ball control at the T21 Ping Pong session supported by Brighton Table Tennis Club. (Photo: Alexis Maryon)

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