Sensory Garden at York College (in partnership with the White Rose)

Mandy Hardy teaches students on the NOCN level 2 & 3 programme and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Students come from as far as the East Coast and West Yorkshire to commit to a programme with the General Education team, and they are from varying backgrounds and usually the hardest to reach. The vast majority of the students have not engaged in full-time education for up to four years, so when they arrive at facilities at the White Rose, they are raw in nature and averse to education. 

Further, many of the students present from broken homes, are homeless, are young parents themselves, are undergoing CAMHS assessments, have EHCPs, have spent time from early teenage years in secure units, have addictions, and self-harm and abusive relationships are prominent in their lives. Yet they turn up daily for a little bit of routine, security, food and education. 

Mandy is determined to find a spark in them to re-ignite their passion and break the barriers they perceive to be negative experiences of education past. She works hard to help these young people to sit comfortably in society, and she applied for funding to create a peaceful and sensory calming environment. With a move to new facilities, she saw the opportunity for students and staff to work together on creating a sensory garden. This would help learners take responsibility for their environment, learn about the wider community and sustainability, and have a place, along with staff members and visitors, to immerse themselves in nature and leave the stressors of everyday life behind.

To make this plan a reality, Mandy applied for a Resource and Facilities Grant. She outlined a plan for a garden that would include elements designed to stimulate the five senses, and create an atmosphere that was at once fun, vibrant, stimulating, educating and relaxing.

Find out more about our Resource and Facilities Grants here.