Royal College Manchester moved into Dockray, the former Royal School Manchester building in September 2023.  It was a challenging time for our team, as we moved the entire college across campus, while welcoming new staff team members, as well as a large intake of four students with MSI.

Four of the students within the Deafblind group had previously accessed Dockray when it was home to Royal School Manchester, whilst one new student joined the group. We did wonder how our new environment would work for us and the students. 

On the first day in the college building, one student appeared to recognise the space. He wanted to rapidly map the building, both upstairs and downstairs and took himself to the room where he was previously based as a school student, taking staff with him. He explored the resources that were in the room and once it was clear to him that this was now a storage room, he accepted. Now he was familiar with the environment, he quickly accepted his new classroom downstairs, as well as his separate sensory diet room, which he accesses for regular short periods through the day. Another student also seemed very happy to be back in her old familiar room!

Within our new environment we have worked on building basic daily routines and are encouraging students to map their area, building their orientation, mobility and independence. We can already see good progress, with one student now able to map from the classroom to the kitchen with just a touch reassurance on her back. Another student is able to navigate to the gym when presented with his OOR (object of reference).

Although we still have a long list of things to do to create the perfect environment (!) we have made great strides. We are still building on students’ workspaces, which aim to encourage independent access to resources and activities.  For one student, building a storage system of tactile labelled activity boxes which are stored in consistent locations has been a great success. Another student has a new OOR board which is located on the wall in her workspace – she is just starting to find the board independently.

The expertise of our Habilitation Officer, who knows several of the students, has really helped with the transition, and the support and training available to our staff has been invaluable. As a result, we can clearly see that the students are now settled and making good progress. 

Written by :
Debra Lally (Royal College Manchester Advanced Practitioner)
Liz Shaw (Royal College Manchester Tutor)