Percy Hedley School – “It’s been a treat and a delight!”

Monday 22nd – Friday 26th October 2018, 12 students, 12 staff

Percy Hedley are a non-maintained charitable special school from Newcastle. I caught up with Linda and Louise, who had brought a mixed group of young students with a range of disabilities including speech language and communication difficulties, physical disabilities and ASD. Read on to find out why Linda and Louise described their stay as ‘fun’, ‘enjoyable’, ‘caring’ and ‘memorable’…

Percy Hedley have been coming to the Lake District Calvert Trust (LDCT) for 10 years now. Asked why they keep coming back, Linda replied, “You’re well organised, you have accessible equipment, facilities and activities; these are all things that our students need. The staff are very experienced too.” Louise added that it was also pretty hard to get accommodation for large groups and it is our “inclusive packages that you offer.”

Asked about their aims for the week Louise replied, “We have a number of aims, linked to their curriculum which is to promote functionality and independence. A predominant aim for this trip was to familiarise the Year 12 students into the department. Staff and students can work collaboratively and cooperatively in activities to build up those special relationships which are so important in our school environment.” Linda added, “Many of our students come from different areas so don’t tend to socialise with their friends at school so this is a good opportunity for them to all get together and socialise.” Dare I say, that their aims were fulfilled, “It always is!” responded Louise.

Quite a number of students experienced a number of ‘firsts’ this week in regards to having an outdoor experience – for example canoeing and horse riding for a few of the students. Louise added, “Even things like bushcraft. Being able to give them those sorts of opportunities is… is why we come here!”

The students have loved the week, with each having their own personal reason for a favourite activity, but very different, thought Louise. “They have each had their own physical and mental challenges through out the week. Linda remarked that, “Very often it is not a physical challenge but an emotional challenge just being away from home.”

The course has had “without a doubt” a positive impact on the students, giving them confidence and self-esteem, as evidenced from previous visits here. Feedback from parents has traditionally been extremely positive too. In the yearly leavers assembly there is always a mention about this residential.

The group had some financial support through a bursary fund, and this has been invaluable. Louise says that due to funding cuts, these trips are reliant on the bursary and charitable aid. “We simply would not be able to come if it wasn’t for the support; we couldn’t provide these experiences without the bursary.” They have also been supported by TUI, the tour operator, from donations collected from flights coming into Newcastle airport, however this was a ‘one off’ for this year. Parents too have been asked to make voluntary contributions.

Linda informs us that many students have made progress during the visit and many have made new friends. Louise noted, “There is always an achievement no matter how small and there is always some sort of progress.” Louise continues, “There have been some massive inspirational moments in terms of young people who’ve not experienced anything like this before.“ Linda continued “It’s been a treat and a delight!” That’s why we do what we do and that’s why we come here – staff seeing how much fulfilment the pupils are getting out of it.”

They were both impressed also with the accessibility of the centre, how well organised we are and how we work with our guests. Linda said, “You change things if need be on a daily basis which give flexibility. The staff, each time we come, regardless of which instructor, they always make us feel welcome, are receptive to staff’s and student’s suggestions; it’s very much a student led experience. They are able to adapt the activities to individual needs.”

The food always goes down well when they visit the LDCT “We love the food, the students love the food. The students often make progress as some have quite restrictive diets. The different types of food and the amount that they’ve tried this week has been a real positive – the young people feel proud about that! The staff in the kitchen too have really gone out of their way.”

They both advised for those who have not been before just to come and visit, perhaps with their family or parents to come and stay.

This is great advice, and we always welcome people who are unsure to either call us or pop in if passing to see what it is we can offer. We always aim to offer fun, enjoyable, caring and memorable times.


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