Mayfield School – “This has been the best week ever!”
November 2018, 4-nights, 12 students, 5 staff
Mayfield SEN School, from inner-city Birmingham re-visited us again this November. Sarah, head of sixth form, brought 12 students, the majority from key stage 3, many with severe learning difficulties, from low income and/or disadvantaged background. There were a few older D of E students who were visiting to take part in the volunteering aspect of the award. Sarah told us a little more about their stay at the Lake District Calvert Trust (LDCT).
LDCT: Why do you return to the Calvert Trust?
Sarah: You meet the needs of our students; the feedback we get from parents when our students return, having achieved everything we’ve promised in terms of building their independence and their confidence – it’s really a lovely opportunity. Also because of where our school is located, many of our students don’t get to see countryside and get the opportunity to get away from what they know and experience something new.
LDCT: What were your aims and were they achieved?
Sarah: Our aims for our key stage 3 students were things like independence, team work, a challenge. And our aims for our D of E students were offering their services as volunteers. And yes – all were achieved.
LDCT: What activities has the group done?
Sarah: Our students were split into two groups, but across the two groups we’ve done horse riding, archery, the Mirehouse challenge course, canoeing and bushcraft. My group also went to the mine and then enjoyed rock & rope while the other group went to Dalton’s Cave and did high ropes and the zip wire.
LDCT: What activity was best in regards to most fun or most challenging?
Sarah: They all chose really different ones. I think for my group the most challenging was the mine walk and that was due to the weather conditions! A lot of them loved horse riding – there was lots to do in terms of grooming, mucking out – that was really lovely. The kids loved the high ropes, zip wire, rock & rope – they loved it all really – and I got really good feedback about canoeing this morning.
LDCT: Has the course had a positive impact on the group?
Sarah: Yes, definitely. They tried new things that they’ve never tried before. We had comments from them such as “I’m not scared of this anymore!” and “Can you tell so-and-so what I’ve done when we get back to school?”. When they phoned home, their parents have commented how they even sound different. It’s just been a real benefit in many terms. Next time they’re away from home they will be a little more independent. It’s a nice stepping stone for us.
LDCT: Have any individuals stood out?
Sarah: We’ve had one young student who showed a very caring and empathetic side to the animals in the stables, which we didn’t expect at all. Another student with a physical disability, has done particularly brilliantly – she didn’t stop paddling all morning! When we went to the mine, the rain was literally falling sideways she got all the way up there and quite a far away into the mine as well. That was really good.
LDCT: How has the bursary funding helped?
Sarah: We haven’t been for two years; we wouldn’t have been able to come this time around. We’ve had cuts in budgets so the funding just isn’t there. With the bursary funding we were able to book a trip, which we paired up with parental contributions – that allowed us to give our students this opportunity again. Anything that’s partially funded is a huge benefit to our families, because the majority of the students we’ve brought away receive free school meals.
LDCT: What stand out features are there about the Lake District Calvert Trust?
Sarah: I think it’s the location, the staff, the activities… everything! It’s just amazing. Nothing really stands out more than the other, it is outstanding – it’s exactly what our kids need. One of our students said “Can we rewind back to Monday? This has been the best week ever!”
LDCT: Was there anything else about your stay that you enjoyed?
Sarah: Oh the food – I should be an ambassador of your food – the food is amazing! When you ask about benefits – the parents tell us “They probably won’t eat; they won’t use the shower” – however the kids have eaten like kings and queens and they have got over their fears and things like self-care and food. It’s been really nice. We also love the swimming pool on site.
LDCT: Do you have any advice for people looking to book a course at the Calvert Trust?
Sarah: Just do it! It is worth its weight in gold, it’s amazing!
LDCT: Has there been a magic moment/ highlight of the week?
Sarah: When we received our certificates, the sun was setting, we’ve just done bushcraft and all the kids were chanting each other’s names and the names of the staff, it was really lovely. It was the culmination of the whole week, everybody shared what their favourite part was, that was really lovely.