09:00AM, Sunday 25 March 2018
The head of a new school for young people in care says it aims to put each child at the centre of everything it does.
Stephen Rodgers is head of education at the Eton Dorney Residential School, which has room to house six young people and 18 day spaces for 10 to 18-year-olds.
Housed in a listed building which has been completely renovated, the school features an original kitchen and morning room dating back to the 16th century.
The school, which opened at the start of the month, is one of seven owned by Calcot Services for Children (CSFC).
Head of care Natalie Boothroyd, who gave the Advertiser a tour of the grounds, said: “The aim is to create a homely environment, not an institutional one.”
Inside, Natalie showed off the sensory room, which is used if a child is anxious and is a place to reassure them.
“These children can be in the care system for a number of reasons including learning and behavioural difficulties,” said Natalie. “So most sessions are one-on-one or in small groups with therapeutic learning and music and art sessions.”
Upstairs the bedrooms all have views of the countryside, additional learning spaces and a huge lounge and kitchen.
Natalie has been with CSFC for over 18 months, trained as a learning disability nurse and then went on to specialise in working with young people with autism.
She is in charge of the individual learning and educational needs of the children.
“For me it’s important that they can learn and grow to be individuals,” she said.
“So those with autism, for example, I find different ways they can learn, like promoting dignity and respect they often haven’t developed at all prior to arriving at CSFC.”
Stephen has been with CSFC for three months. He started out teaching swimming lessons more than 30 years ago before he moved into outside education and residential care.
He said: “These young people have a pretty hard deal, so how can we give them the chance to do better by putting each child at the centre of everything we do?
“We’ll fight their corner if we have to.
“In Dorney we hope to make use of the rural setting, we’re getting goats and chickens and will grow vegetables, and young people will be offered the Duke of Edinburgh Award and learning through doing to make the curriculum appealing.”
He said it was going to be important to make youngsters feel a part of the community and that him and the rest of the staff would be looking at ways to do that.
He added: “Seeing children that have had difficulties behave normally, hearing their laughter and knowing we have the potential to make a difference, that’s what it’s all about really.”
New Dorney school creates safe learning space for children in care
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