Case Study 29, December 2001 Click for the next page!
Prospect Bank School
Overcoming barriers to participation

This is the second of our four Case Studies for this session. We continue with our theme 'Overcoming Barriers to Participation', important to all schools, from nursery through to high school. In some schools, some areas of the curriculum and the way they are taught or the way the school is organised may present barriers to full participation. In others, moves towards greater participation may be hard to implement because they necessitate changes to existing practices among pupils and staff. Some pupils, too, can bring particular challenges to school staff promoting the participation of all their pupils.

This issue features Prospect Bank School in the City of Edinburgh. Special schools must meet the requirement placed on all schools now to improve performance by the setting and meeting of targets while still tailoring education to develop the highly individual abilities, interests and personalities of their pupils and maintaining a positive ethos. In this Case Study, Prospect Bank show how they have developed: positive approaches to behaviour management, including peer support, to enable participation in learning; the use of snack time to enable pupils to participate in making choices, and, finally, participation in an inclusive residential experience.

This Case Study was published by the Scottish Schools Ethos Network.

Meg Donaldson
Head Teacher
Prospect Bank School
81 Restalrig Road
Edinburgh EH6 8BQ
Tel: 0131 553 2239
Fax: 0131 554 5119



Prospect Bank School, in the Leith area of Edinburgh, caters for 55 primary age pupils with a range of special educational needs from all parts of the city. These special needs include moderate learning difficulties, communication impairments, autistic spectrum disorders and some behavioural difficulties.

The staff team comprises of 6 full time teachers, 3 part time teachers offering music, art and PE, Head teacher, 4 nursery nurses, 4 full-time auxiliaries, a janitor, a clerical assistant, a cook, 2 dining assistants, a team of school cleaners, 2 part time occupational therapists and 2 part time speech and language therapists. The school doctor and nurse offer regular support. This large team of adults works with parents to meet the wide variety of needs of the children. Parents and staff use home-school diaries to maintain day-to-day communication and good partnerships. A strong Parent-Staff Association provides valuable support for all. To meet the needs of our children, all staff have developed an inclusive approach to working together; classroom teams - teachers, nursery nurses and auxiliaries - share planning of day-to-day activities, therapists and classroom teams work together to help children achieve their individual targets, support staff and teachers share training opportunities. Participation and partnership underpin every aspect of the adults' work, thus modelling collaboration for our pupils. Visitors remark on our positive ethos and welcoming atmosphere (see Picture A).

Pupil participation and inclusion

We recognise that all our pupils have the potential to develop and to participate in a wide range of developmental activities. Our challenge is to optimise every opportunity for increased real participation. The greater the difficulties and disabilities that children have, the more important it is to identify and create imaginative ways of them really actively engaging in learning and interacting socially. Without such a focus, it is all too easy to collude unwittingly in increased dependency and negative behaviours. Three aspects of our work illustrate how we have made progress:

developing peer support for pupils with behaviour difficulties, allowing all to participate in learning without undue disruption
using snack time as an opportunity for communicating, choice making and participation
working together with our fellow cluster primary schools to participate in an inclusive residential experience for the Class 7 / Primary 7 pupils


Picture A: Our school badge depicts our pleasant building and grounds, a happy welcoming wave and children and adults working closely together.
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