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02 June 2023

Racing to School and Autism in Racing programmes collaborate at Fakenham Racecourse  

On 9th May Racing to School held one of its popular education days at Fakenham Racecourse. The charity’s team hosted 20 pupils from the Duke of Lancaster School, along with their teachers and teaching assistants.

Duke of Lancaster School is a new state-funded school for children with special communication and interaction needs. The school forms part of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Academies Trust (SENDAT) and takes up to 100 pupils spread over eight year groups ranging from ages 5 to 16.

This day was the first collaboration and overlap between the work of Racing to School and the community programme, Autism in Racing, and involved young people having access to a Mobile Sensory Unit. The Unit was run by the team at Immersive and not only provided over 250 games and interactive activities on huge screens, but also a safe quiet space for those attending the raceday.

Duke Of Lancaster Academy. Photographer: Nick Butcher – Leaderboard Photography

The pupils were split into two groups and Racing to School’s Mark Wall and Amanda Pettitt took their charges into the Weighing Room and Parade Ring, as well as incorporating the sensory unit into the day’s activity. The addition was a great success, providing areas for the pupils to regulate, enabling them to cope with the new experience of a busy racecourse and to get the most out of their Racing to School day.

The Immersive interactive mobile unit

David Hunter, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at Fakenham said: “It was a real delight for Fakenham Racecourse to work with Racing to School and Autism in Racing to enable a group of pupils from the newly opened Duke of Lancaster Academy in Fakenham to attend an educational day at the races.

“I was delighted with the number of pupils who came and those that I had the privilege to meet were having a wonderful day. Through Autism in Racing a sensory mobile classroom was set up, which was well used by some of the pupils. My hope is that it will become an annual event for the Academy to look forward to in early May each year.”

John Blake, CEO of Racing to School added: “Our school days at Fakenham are always a success, as the racecourse is always warm and open with its welcome for local young people. To add this extra dimension of a sensory room made this day of learning even more special and effective and demonstrates the sport’s increasing focus on tangible work to support accessibility and inclusivity.” 

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