Pupils gain life skills through everyday tasks
Pupils in their final year at St Nicholas School in Chippenham are learning life skills in a unique project.
The special school, which has students with complex learning difficulties, rents a semi-detached house on the nearby residential area of Oaklands.
In preparation for them leaving the school’s sixth form, the students spend their final year in the house learning practical skills, such as vacuuming, washing up, making a cup of tea and gardening.
They are shown how to do the tasks by the staff, and instruction sheets are on the walls.
This is the second year of the project. Six students are at the house this time and they are encouraged to be fully involved in how the house runs.
Teacher Phil Medlow works at the house along with teaching assistant Caroline Elms.
Mr Medlow said: “Anything that needs doing in the house I try and teach them what to do.
“They put up the notice boards by using spirit levels and drilling holes and putting in rawl plugs.
“They designed where they wanted to plant bulbs in the front garden and have been weeding and cutting grass.
“We tell them that what their mum and dad are doing around their house we do those things here.
“The house offers a different opportunity for the students to really develop their independence and living skills.”
The students go to a local supermarket to buy food for the house.
They also go to Trowbridge College once a week to learn carpentry skills and do swimming and gym sessions outside the house.
One of the bedrooms has been turned into a classroom and there is also a lounge with a TV and a CD player for the students to relax.
Early this year the students will be learning how to use a washing machine and iron clothes and will also learn how to make a bed.
Mr Medlow, a special needs teacher with 25 years’ experience, said: “Parents of the students have been very positive about the work their kids are doing.
“They had said they have noticed an improvement and increase in their child talking at home.
“The students have responded brilliantly, I think they really enjoy it here.
“They love doing things and it is much more than sitting at a table and following somebody talking at a blackboard.”
Through the tasks they do, the students will gain a certificate in Life and Living Skills awarded by the OCR.
When they leave St Nicholas School in the summer, most of the students will go to Chippenham College on a two-year XLR8 course where they will continue to learn life and living skills.