Illuminating Class Changes at Chatham Special Needs Academy

Bradfields Academy, a leading centre of excellence in the Special Education sector based at Chatham, Kent, has just installed a new ‘child-friendly’ class change system to help the smooth running of the school.

With a roll of 295 students ranging from 4 to 19 years of age, Bradfields Academy is a large campus spread over 3 separate buildings. “Getting classes to change on time was a problem as one of our buildings had no class change system, and the other two had different systems which weren’t synchronised. They were also loud, harsh and not very child friendly, which can be quite disturbing for students with special needs.” said business manager Lesley Osborne. “We really needed a system that would alert the students throughout the academy that it was time to change class, mid-morning or lunch break, but one that would be more sympathetic to the student’s needs.”

The new system installed by Bodet incorporates new clocks and melody sounders which are synchronised by a programme on the academy’s central computer. At each class change or break, sounders play a gentle pre-recorded melody simultaneously throughout all buildings. During inclement weather, a rocker switch changes the melody to a pre-recorded voice announcement alerting the students that it’s a wet break so they know to stay inside.

The programme is also easy to modify to a holiday mode so there are no alerts on training days or during vacations.

“Some of the students suffer with hearing difficulties, while others need to wear ear defenders so they may not hear the melodies” added Osborne. “We therefore added lighting modules to the system so there is a visual alert as well as the sound melodies. They are a real help, not only for students with hearing impairment, but for those in IT classes who may be wearing headphones.”

“The gentle sounds and lights are very different from the usual harsh bell-type systems, but it works really well and now all class changes and breaks occur smoothly and efficiently. More importantly, we have had really positive feedback from the students since we installed the new system.”


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