Accessibility Policy

September 1, 2016

This accessibility policy has been drawn up in consultation with the management and staff of the College.
We are committed to providing an environment which values and includes all students, staff, parents and visitors regardless of their educational, physical, sensory, social, spiritual, emotional and cultural needs. We are further committed to challenging attitudes about disability and accessibility and developing a culture of awareness, tolerance and inclusion. Ashbourne College has a rich history of adhering to these qualities to find pragmatic solutions to support individual requirements.

Background: The College’s layout and facilities

Old Court Place: The College is committed to making reasonable adjustments to allow disabled students to access educational provision at the College. The College occupies three sites very close to Kensington High Street. The main building on Old Court Place has an entrance at street level but the College’s premises are on the mezzanine level (level M) and the first and second floor. The premises form part of a listed building also occupied by shops and other businesses on Kensington High Street and therefore permission to undergo significant restructuring is very difficult to achieve. Access to the College premises is by stairs from the ground level to level M. Staircases connect the other floors. There is a goods lift, which serves each floor and is used by and accessible to the other businesses in the building, mainly Virgin Active health club who use it for transporting laundry to and from their premises on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the adjacent building. Level M has two classrooms, which are reasonably large, a laboratory (which was formerly the Chemistry Lab and after consulting with the Head of Natural Sciences, it was agreed that we would switch the Labs to accommodate a teacher with a knee injury), the College library, staff room, reception and the offices of the academic management team (Principal and Director of Studies). The classrooms are suitably large for the position of the furniture to be modified to accommodate disabled students and staff.

Young Street: The second site is accessed from raised ground level (i.e. there are two steps leading up to the front door) on Young Street, which is on the opposite side of Kensington High Street to Old Court Place. The College occupies part of the second through fourth floor of this building, the façade of which is listed and therefore, again, it is extremely difficult to gain permission for restructuring. The first floor is accessed by a staircase and a small lift.

The first floor has a reception, small common area, staff room and seven classrooms including a laboratory. The laboratory has benches at waist height and stools as the only furniture. However, there is sufficient space to add lower, more accessible furniture. Disabled access to the other classrooms would be difficult but, with some forward planning and movement of classroom furniture, the rooms could each be used by disabled staff and students on the floor. The front door to the floor includes two sets of double doors, which are quite small.

The second floor has four classrooms (including the art and graphics room) leading off from a central corridor varying in size. The art and graphics rooms have a combination of benches and table furniture. An additional classroom (often utilised for textiles classes) also has benches at waist height and stools as the only furniture. Disabled access to the classrooms would be difficult but, with some forward planning and movement of classroom furniture, the rooms could each be used by disabled staff and students.
The third floor has one laboratory and Unisex toilets, which used to be separate Girls and Boys student toilets and after a meeting with Ashbourne’s LGBTQ Plus group and a discussion with transgender students, we converted them into unisex toilets. The laboratory has benches at waist height and stools as the only furniture. Once again, disabled access to the classrooms would be difficult but, with some forward planning and movement of classroom furniture, the rooms could each be used by disabled staff and students on the floor.

Each floor is accessed by double doors with stairs leading up to each floor.

Kensington Court: The third site is accessed from raised ground level (i.e. one step leading to the front door area). The College occupies part of the second and third floor of this building, the façade of which is listed and therefore, again, it is extremely difficult to gain permission for restructuring. The first floor is accessed by a staircase.
The first floor has a reception and four classrooms varying in size most capable of accommodating 6-8 students and one capable of occupying 10-14 students. The larger room is accessed from raised ground level (i.e. four steps leading to the doors and classroom).

The second floor has one large classroom, staff room and two unisex toilets (one for staff and one for students). The classroom has a combination of table furniture and benches at waist height with stools. Disabled access to the classrooms would be difficult but, with some forward planning and movement of classroom furniture, the rooms could each be used by disabled staff and students on the floor. Disabled access to the toilets would be difficult since they are quite small.
The first floor is accessible by double doors. All other floors are accessible by a single door with stairs leading to each floor.
Neither site has any allocated parking and there are double yellow lines outside each building.
All buildings are well lit. The Old Court Place building is clearly sign-posted within and from the front door. Signage to the Young Street and Kensington Court building are less visible.

Potential Adjustments to Enhance Accessibility

Though Ashbourne intends to continue to be pragmatic with regards to accessibility, adjustments have been considered in order that we are prepared. In the event a student enrolled at Ashbourne and was unable to use the stairs easily, the college would look to reinstate the lift at Young Street and timetable his or her classes to the first floor, this has the advantage of having toilets, classrooms, a common area and laboratories. The lift also runs to the Art, Graphics and Textile rooms. Furthermore, the College would look to instate a student helper programme to insure that he or she has help around the college. Ashbourne has introduced a similar system before in order to adjust for a student who used crutches and we also recently had a Diabetic student who required a medical alert assistant dog on the premises, which involved re-timetabling lessons to our Kensington Court building, which was more suitable for the needs of the the dog and student.

In the event of a wheelchair using student, products such as ramps and evacu chairs would be bought prior to his or her enrolment at the school and are not currently something the school owns.

Improvement and Review

We plan, over time, to increase the accessibility of provision for all students, staff and visitors to the school in the following areas:

  • Increase the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the school curriculum;
  • Improve the physical environment of the school to increase access to education by disabled pupils;
  • Installation of a Unisex toilet at Old Court Place;
  • Installation of Unisex toilets for staff at Old Court Place which would mean that we would have Unisex toilets at all of our 3 premises.

These will be reviewed as and when necessary. It is acknowledged that there will be need for ongoing awareness training for all staff in the matter of disability discrimination and the potential need to inform attitudes on this matter.

The Accessibility Plan should be read in conjunction with the following policies, strategies and documents:

The Plan will be monitored through the Director of Studies and Principal.

Welcoming and Preparing for Disabled Students

Where it is practicable to make reasonable adjustments to enable a prospective student to take up a place at the College, the College is committed to providing those reasonable adjustments.
Where the College agrees to provide additional services, such as learning support, charges may be made at a level that reasonably reflects the cost to the school of providing that service. Details of costs can be provided in writing on request.
In order to meet the needs of disabled students, the school requires full information. The school will ask all applicants for admission to the school to disclose whether they have received any learning support, have had an educational psychologist’s report or have any disability or other condition of which the College should be aware.
In assessing the student or prospective student, the College may need to take advice and require assessments as appropriate. The College will be sensitive to any issues of confidentiality.

Authorised by The Principal
Date September 2016
Effective date of the policy September 2016
Circulation Teaching staff / all staff / parents / Students on request
Review date September 2017