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Ty Bronllys pupils first to experience innovative new Pod classrooms

Pupils from Mid Wales with additional needs associated with autism have debuted innovative new Pod school classrooms, designed with their additional learning needs in mind.

The IAD Company has flipped the conventional ‘portacabin’ approach to additional learning space on its head with the design and installation of six ground-breaking classroom ‘Pods’ at Ty Bronllys, near Brecon.

As the brainchild of the award-winning company, the pods are among the first of their kind designed specifically for students with complex needs associated with autism.

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Rebecca Lewis-Chapman, Director at The IAD Company, explains: “The need for annexed school classrooms is all too often met with the installation of a poorly insulated portacabin or similar, but in a healthcare environment where the learner has highly specialist needs, this simply will not do.

“These pods have been especially created to help students at feel at ease with their surroundings and promote the sense of going on an adventure every day, rather than to school.”

The IAD Company was commissioned to create a classroom solution by Orbis Education and Care, a leading UK provider of schools, residential homes and facilities for children and adults with a diagnosis of autism.

First conceptualised in response to a 2016 brief from Orbis requiring expandable structures capable of responding to an ever-increasing demand for its services, IAD has now seen its innovative creation come to life and the Pods opened for use.

Purposefully small in scale, they open on two sides to the outside elements in line with wider biophilic design principles to create a feeling of space free of the confines a conventional classroom environment places on the pupil.

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The use of modular furniture also means each room is highly flexible and can easily transform from a standard classroom layout with rows of desks into an inward facing, collaborative space for group focused lessons.

“The Ty Bronllys site is surrounded by trees, green fields and mountains visually, while aurally the Pods are serenaded with distant sounds of birdsong, which made it the ideal site for us to be trialling these revolutionary new learning facilities,” Rebecca added.

“We are delighted that these innovative and forward-thinking Pods are now in situ and positively impacting on the mental health of users who view them as a safe space in which to learn, think and create.

The sizing of the Pods is also at a scale proportional to the human body, which helps put end-users at ease – a direct response to the feelings of institutionalism created by standard metal box portacabins.

Quick-to-build and environmentally considerate, their design has also been widely praised by both planning and building control professionals for innovation and efficiency.

Mike Currier, CEO at Orbis Education and Care, said: “Our focus is always on providing a person-centred approach and these ground-breaking classroom Pods are just one of the many ways we are able to achieve this.

“We are absolutely delighted with the design that Rebecca and her amazing team at The IAD Company have achieved, and we are honoured to be the first trialling these cutting-edge facilities so that others in the industry may benefit too.”

The IAD Company is a non-profit company with a focus on researching and creating nurturing environments that enable us to flourish in our daily lives.

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