Extracurricular and class supervision
A high priority is recommended for the conditions of extracurricular and class supervision. Clear sightlines are essential where students can be bullied by their peers both in class and during ‘free time’
Architectural spaces (sightlines)
In order to
counteract bullying and social exclusion.
Exclusion and bullying at school of children on the spectrum is widespread and often very serious. Through it trauma’s are caused on a personal level which can persist for life. On the level of society, exclusion and bullying prevent education from playing its crucial role as an instrument of social integration of people who are ‘different’.
In the classroom. In the theme ‘classrooms’ Martin Hanbury is rather extensively quoted, making clear the classroom is a social minefield, especially for children on the spectrum. That’s why it’s so important that teachers are able to prevent as much as they can that pupils are bullied or excluded. A crucial precondition for this is that the classroom has the necessary sightlines, so teachers have oversight throughout the class, both from their desk or other fixed position and when they are moving among their pupils/students.
McAllister & Maguire confirm the importance of sightlines from the position of teachers, based on their own impressive research in special education for younger children.
Extracurricular: about one-third of the time at school there are no formal lessons and students are left to their own devices: in corridors, the lunch area, the school yard, etc.. Some famous people on the spectrum recall their sense of isolation in school and research mentioned there confirms isolation is a general occurrence; active countermeasures contribute to the broader phenomenon of social integration of people on the spectrum.
The same researchers find that autistic students are twice as likely as other students to prefer their breaks inside, rather than outside the school building, and cite the lack of the required communicative skills as an important reason for this preference. Students on the spectrum may also prefer staying inside because the chances for supervision by adults which help prevent exclusion and bullying by their peers is greater.
It is extremely likely that deviating pain experiences play a substantial role in this as well. (See touch and pain in school and recommendation 119.)
These recommendations are not about the ‘regime’ of supervision which many schools have, but about the architectural conditions that enhance the ability to adequately supervise.
Sufficient ‘sightlines’ in and directly around schools are paramount, since these enable adults to supervise sufficiently. Though full visibility is not a realistic goal, the ambition to come as close as possible is recommended; ‘sufficient’ means that all the places where students may be bullied are visible by adults at all times.
‘Sufficient’ implies one should be able to look into classrooms, preferably into all corners. Windows and other ‘see through’ arrangements are necessary and each space should, if possible, be in view from at least two adjoining spaces, or from the outside.
By the same token corridors and staircases should be ‘transparent’ as well.
The rigorous execution of these principles is, of course, dependent on the type of student, the school and its operating budget.
Clearly, exceptions are made for spaces – such as bathrooms and staff areas – where privacy is an overriding concern; safety measures other than visual oversight by adults who are present should be taken there.