Million pound investment in LDD

WESTON College has started work on a £1 million development  that will provide state-of-the- art facilities for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

The two-part scheme at Knightstone Campus, to finish in September, includes a dedicated workshop for a range of courses including motor vehicles, painting, decorating, carpentry and bicycle maintenance. 

The second phase will create a dedicated sensory learning base for students with profound and complex learning disabilities (PCLD) and includes specialist classrooms, independent kitchen-dining area and sensory room – the first of its kind in the region.

LInda Burlison, Assistant Principal (Systems and Resources) said: “This is the first time we have been able to totally adapt facilities for PCLD students and it’s wonderful they can now come here rather than have to go out of district.”

Strategic Lead Inclusive Practice, Ben McConkey, added: “The development demonstrates the College’s commitment to partnership working with the local authority, schools and special schools.

“The key element is about involving learners and their circles of support at all stages in planning, managing and shaping their provision from their first point of contact with us.

“We are committed to enhancing our outstanding provision through supporting outcomes that are appropriate for each individual learner.”                                                                                        

Student Matthew Barrett, 18, of Worle, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Matthew will be joining the Preparation for Work and Life programme at the new centre and said: “I was hooked from my taster days at the College. I have already learnt so much here, I love the College.”

His dad, Garry added: “I’d heard of the College’s great reputation and excellent facilities. Without this specialist facility Matthew would have to go to residential college when he wanted to live at home and study locally.”

In 1981 there were just eight enrolments who required additional learning support - now there are 980 Further Education students and 57 Higher Education students receiving various levels of learning support at the College.

All students with additional needs have access to individualised support programmes from a number of specialist support teams including students on the Autism Spectrum, students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and students with: Specific Learning Difficulties; ADHD/ADD; Visual Impairments and Complex Learning Disabilities.

Weston College also has a unique facility for people with autism – a 10-bedroom hotel – which is the first of its kind in the UK.

Weston Bay Hotel specialises in support for learners on the Autism Spectrum helping them to access and progress to higher education, independent living and employment.

The resource teaches students to understand and manage their learning difficulties as well as promoting independent living and improved career opportunities.

Weston College is the only centre in the UK which offers their support staff a career structure involving specialism to graduate level.

In 2014 OFSTED graded Weston College ‘Outstanding’.

In addition the Special Education Needs and Review Team stated: ‘The College Support for learning is outstanding; support workers are highly experienced and often very well qualified, with specific areas of expertise such as behaviour management or visual impairment. Links to specialist provision and support agencies are very strong.’

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