Weatherfield Academy – pushing to the limits

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

The Calvert Trust welcomed a group of 12 from the Weatherfield Academy for the first time this week. The academy, based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire is for young people who find it difficult to maintain their progress in mainstream educational settings. The group included students with a mixed range of learning and behavioural difficulties. We caught up with 2 of the support staff, Kerrie and Tanya, following their week here to find out how they got on.

We first were keen to find out why they chose us, coming up all the way from Bedfordshire. “You are able to cater for the needs of our students” replied Tanya, “Other centres have not been able to meet these needs, and it was becoming more and more difficult to meet these needs.” I asked if their needs have been met here, and Tanya replied “Absolutely.”

They have had a busy time activity-wise including taking part in a night walk, ghyll scrambling, high ropes course and zip wire, a day out on the catamaran, a biking afternoon and a mine tour. Kerrie said that everyone “just loved” the cycling; “their faces said everything!” The high ropes proved to be challenging for a number of students, however Tanya and Kerrie expressed how impressed they were with their students, “They pushed themselves to the limit and beyond.” One student at the start of the week had refused to do the high ropes but in the end pushed herself to doing even the long high ropes course. Kerrie said it was amazing to see their drive. Tanya added, “The activities on offer are great, and are superbly organised; the variety on offer allows you to really personalise, and have a bespoke week.”

The week has clearly had a positive impact on the group as a whole. “It’s been massively positive” said both Tanya and Kerrie. “They have really come together and gelled as a team, they have supported each other and found strengths they didn’t know they’d had. This has surprised them because they have said so. They have also seen the strengths in others, and have helped each other when needed.” Tanya continued, “We have spoken to them every evening and you get that feeling that you can’t describe; we’re just so proud of them!” Kerrie added “It nearly brought a tear to my eye.”

Tanya explained about one student who they were concerned about with emotional and behavioural issues has been fantastic.

Asked about the stand-out features of the Centre, Tanya replied “Where do you start? The staff are fantastic and absolutely passionate about what they do, and that is obvious from the minute you meet them. That passion and excitement rubs off, all that positive vibe. They are extremely knowledgeable about all special needs. The facilities here are absolutely amazing.” She continued, “The location’s amazing, on any day, because every time you look out the window it’s different.” Kerrie added “Every day the students have taken a picture of the view; they usually just take selfies at home!”

Kerrie also mentioned the catering, “The students keep going on about how wonderful the food is.”

To conclude our chat, I asked Tanya and Kerrie what advice you would give for people to book. They both simply said, “Do it!” They concluded by saying that the Calvert Trust is “truly inclusive”.

Tanya summed up her visit: “The knock on effect of all this is what we see when we get back; it doesn’t stop as we walk out the gates. What you do here, works.”

 

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