Special needs pupils set for cycling, films, and excursions at half-term

This Is Wiltshire: Teaching assistants Rachel Russell, Lara Moss and Natalie Bailey with pupils at Crowdys Hill School Buy this photo » Teaching assistants Rachel Russell, Lara Moss and Natalie Bailey with pupils at Crowdys Hill School

TEENAGERS with special needs will enjoy action-packed half-terms, some for the first time, after their school was awarded nearly £10,000 to re-launch its popular holiday club.

Three years after it lost vital funding to keep its pupils entertained and engaged during the school break, Crowdys Hill School has finally been granted the £9,000 needed to re-open its dedicated activities group by the Big Lottery Fund.

The holiday club will start during the February half-term and cater for 40 pupils each day.

From trips to the cinema and restaurant to cupcake-making, bike rides and arts and crafts, students who would normally be left with little to do during their break will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of workshops and excursions.

Determined to resurrect the activities centre at the school, teaching and learning assistants Rachel Russell applied for financial backing along with colleagues Natalie Bailey and Lara Moss.

After a nail-biting 12 month wait they learned their bid had been successful.

Rachel said the grant would allow many teenagers, often stranded at home or unable to enjoy half-term, to share in the fun like their able-bodied peers.

“We are excited about the funding,” she said. “Some of the children find it difficult to access mainstream provision. They can’t do anything in the holidays because they can’t do anything on their own.

“It is fun for them and gives them somewhere to go during the school holidays. We have got funding to do four sessions, even during the summer holidays and six members of staff from the school will run the scheme.”

A similar scheme was rolled out at the school several years ago backed by the Aiming High with Disabled Children grant, introduced by the government.

However, when the sum was withdrawn due to budget cuts, Crowdys Hill’s popular club was forced to fold.

Not merely exciting for pupils, the new initiative will provide valuable support for their parents and families as they are faced with the difficult task of looking after a young adult with very complex needs for a prolonged period of time without any help.

“It’s respite care for some of the parents during the holidays but some of our children are actually carers at home so it gives them a break and something fun to do.”

While several students will not be able to take part in the first run of the holiday club, they will be placed on a priority list for the next session at Easter or during the summer time.

Although the grant was allocated for one year only, the school hopes to secure enough money to make the holiday club a permanent fixture and, in future, invite pupils’ siblings to attend.

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