EVM has gone back to the classroom to deliver a very worthwhile and original project, with St Robert Southwell Primary School

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Bus conversion specialists EVM has gone back to the classroom to deliver a very worthwhile and original project, with St Robert Southwell Primary School. EVM’s MD., Danny Mc Gee said on the initiative: “We were delighted to be involved in such a rewarding project with the local community that took place last year”. 

St Robert Southwell Primary School based in Horsham, West Sussex was in desperate need of a sensory classroom in a quiet environment. Its purpose? To create a private area for children having a bad day and for those with special educational purposes to escape in a tranquil room with a learning mentor beside them.

The current space was in a cramped corner of a classroom and with no budget at hand. EVM’s Managing Director, Danny McGee wanted to help come up with a solution so decided to set up a highly skilled team to come together as one. Involved in the project were, PVL Ltd, a market-leading manufacturer in high visibility safety markings and corporate branding for the emergency services and fleet markets and Sawyers Auto Smart for additional support providing bodywork repairs.

“St Robert Southwell is a great primary school and like so many other schools in the area, they have to manage budget restrictions. The need for a new sensory classroom was impossible for the school to resolve given their funding and space limitations’. We looked at this and together with some like-minded local businesses, decided to solve the problem,” he explained.

“A Bluebird Tucana 16-seater Minibus was sourced which had the ability for wheelchair access and was brought to our workshop in Crawley. Work started immediately to configure the classroom interior layout carried out by EVM. Sawyer Auto Smart repaired and resprayed the outer panels and the team at PVL could begin livery for the exterior artwork.”

Its unique touch was the design created by the pupils. They have not seen anything like this before. Danny McGee wanted to keep the project involved by all and so a winning design was selected by the school which shows a summer sunset landscape drawn coloured in with pencils.

Managing Director of PVL, Nick Broom explained, ‘When Danny mentioned the schools needs for a sensory classroom, we were on board immediately. It’s a great community project that will benefit the educational needs of local children, both now and in the future.’ Specialist materials were carefully selected and donated for the fitting of livery that included working over the weekends. The artwork on the windows darkens the room to help the children feel safer in an enclosed environment.”

The minibus was completed on the 9th November 2019 and a ceremony with staff, pupils, parents and suppliers is due to take place once COVID-19 restrictions allow this to happen.

The electrics have now been fitted as of January 2021 and a budget has been put in place to buy the required sensory equipment. This will range from an LED Projector light-ocean wave night sky light, 2 sensory rope lights, crocodile activity wall and a bubble tube that will be strapped in. They also plan to spend about £200 on smaller sensory toys. It will be available during lunch time, play time as well as lesson times being staffed at all times. The classroom is tucked away on site beside the library where it is less distracting for those who will be using it.

Mrs Cousins, Deputy Headteacher at St Robert Southwell said: ‘We have taken delivery of the sensory classroom and we are very grateful for everyone involved and the kind opportunity given to us all here. The staff, parents and children are very excited to begin our first project and we can’t wait to start!’


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