Astley Park School – “What the pupils have experienced is priceless.”

Monday 8th – Friday 12th October 2018, 30 visitors

From Monday 8th to Friday 12th October we had a 2-class, 27-strong group of pupils and staff from Astley Park School in Lancashire staying with us. Astley Park School are a special needs state school that meet the teaching and learning needs of pupils with a range of learning difficulties whose needs cannot be met fully in a mainstream school.

Their aim this week was to challenge and develop the pupils’ social skills, alongside having a good experiential adventure helping developing their independence. I sat down with teachers Joe and Carol (Mr Massey and Mrs Iddon in ‘school speak’!) who gave me a little more feedback about their visit to the Lake District Calvert Trust (LDCT).

They explained that this was their third visit to the Centre, and have chosen to re-visit due to a number of reasons. Joe explained that they have looked at other Centres but they don’t come close to the facilities compared with the LDCT.

Carol explained, “The setting, the staff and the fact that we have been before and had a very positive experience means this outstrips everywhere else for me. It’s a 5-star experience in terms of a residential, and I have been on many.” Carol also appreciated that the week’s schedule was devised in collaboration between the Calvert Trust staff and the school before they arrived, which meant they were able to plan a programme that actually suited their group’s specific requirements.

A busy week, therefore, was planned with most completing various challenging activities such as sailing, a high ropes course and zip-wire, canoeing, cycling and ghyll scrambling to name a few. Joe said how well the sailing went down, explaining that it was a really good sensory activity, although the high ropes was “great fun” and the most rewarding for the pupils. He commented how well the pupils performed with the staff giving them the extra confidence that may have been needed. Carol thought that the ghyll scrambling was a great activity – although the most challenging for their less-able pupils – but the Astley Park staff were “blown away by how far they got and what they got out of it.”

Carol commented, “We walked through the centre doors on the Monday and we are going to be a very different group walking out when we leave today. In terms of the relationships that have developed during the course of the week, we are a more cohesive group which when moving forward when back at school will be extremely beneficial.” She continues, “For me the insight I have gained into the pupils, what the pupils have experienced and learnt is priceless.” Joe agreed and added, “A lot of the students have been at our school since nursery and through to 15 [years old] so to have this insight into what challenges and barriers lie ahead, and get them ready for them leaving school, developing their independence, is invaluable.”

“It has been a privilege to witness our students’ self-confidence, self-esteem, life skills and independence develop. I’m very proud of all they have achieved.” commented Carol.  Joe too feels the same about the group; he has had most students stepping out of their comfort zone and he has seen them grow in self confidence over the duration of the week alone.

Praise was given to the supportive Calvert staff by both Carol and Joe, for their understanding of the needs of the group: “You get that very quickly,” Carol commented. They appreciated that at the Centre we have someone on site, on call, even throughout the night.   Joe said, “It’s the staff that make it – it’s the knowing when you need a little bit of extra support; it’s always just timed just perfectly; their change of face just at the right time. The staff just have that experience.”

To sum up, which is always a tricky ask, Carol and Joe described the week as, “Priceless.” We look forward to welcoming back Astley Park School in the future, for some more valuable, treasured and priceless moments.


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