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ASDAN Short Courses opening doors for residential learners

The Arcadia Care Group is an independent provider of specialist healthcare. Their Park Lodge facility is a residential unit for young people aged 13 to 18 who have a diagnosis of eating disorders or related conditions and have been detained under the Mental Health Act.  

Angharad Crane, Head of Science and Special Educational Needs Coordinator at Park Lodge, shared with us the inspiring and transformational effect ASDAN’s Short Courses have had on its residents. 

"Our young people have been sectioned and live here full time until they start transitioning back into the community, returning to the parental home or moving onto their next support setting. A lot of them have missed a considerable amount of school, often at least one or two years of education.Some are at the end of their compulsory school age or even older, so they have engaged in some core subjects but haven't had the chance to do any courses or qualifications for some time."

"Some residents have Educational Health Care Plans (EHCPs) and there's a wide variety of learning needs and barriers. Some young people are autistic, and others have predominantly social emotional and mental health issues at crisis points where they've been in in hospitals prior to this setting. As a result, they haven't been able to access the education they need. They either haven’t been able to attend school or the education offered within that setting has had to come secondary to their clinical needs." 

"Because of their struggles with eating and the consequent reluctance to be around others, they have been quite isolated from other young people. Many of them are intimidated by gaps in their education such as their written and communication skills or lack of specific knowledge on a subject. When I first arrived here, our hugely important but baseline goal was toget them into the classroom and wanting to engage in a course.”  

Positive experiences through personalised learning 

ASDAN offer over 30 Short Courses that cover a huge variety of topics including computing, careers and work, enterprise, and the environment. These flexible, portfolio-based programmes are aimed at learners working from Entry level 3 through to Level 1, who can develop their skills through subject areas that inspire their interest.  

Angharad told us how ASDAN Short Courses have captivated her learners.  

“The Short Courses have been a fantastic platform to engage our learners. The fact that the programmes are flexible and vocational has opened a lot of doors. It's been so nice to get them back into learning, sitting in a group with other young people and working together." 

"The group started with the Animal Care Short Course. They wanted to learn about the practical aspect of looking after an animal, and the therapeutic nature of this process has been a huge success. Taking this into account, the clinical team authorised them to have their own pet and they have re-homed a three-legged bearded dragon called Stumpy. The Looking after animals module focused on caring for him and completing tasks such as researching his breed, setting up his accommodation, creating cleaning logs and conducting health checks." 

"They're enthusiastic to complete the different modules and challenges, as well as giving their feedback. It has been such a successful engagement tool for them to return to the classroom and have a positive experience. It has also started building their core skills such as communication, literacy, IT, communication, and working with others."

"Some of the young people rarely left their own room. We thought that getting them into a shared learning space would be a protracted process, but the course has enabled this within a couple of weeks. The practical nature and having a shared interest provided an amazing platform for them to pull together and support each other for a common goal which wasn't their own. Working with a live animal introduced something even more vulnerable in the room than themselves, and that’s been really impactful.” 

Creating possibilities  

“The course is making the learners explore new and different opportunities. They have set up connections with a reptile rescue centre, who have agreed they can visit and learn about work experience there. The rescue centre also offers a holiday home service for reptiles, which the young people are aiming to get involved with. They want to set up an extra tank at the unit to house holiday reptiles, which shows such responsibility to care for someone else’s animal. I can imagine that at least one of those young people will end up working in the animal care industry."

"After getting on so well with Animal Care, the learners were keen to explore other courses offered by ASDAN. They’ve now enrolled on the PHSE Short Course, which is a very difficult subject for them because many have experienced trauma in different contexts. They are doing the Financial awareness and Careers modules, as they felt they were valuable for them to transition into independent living and becoming adults. The nature of being sectioned and in a residential unit means they don’t have much experience of managing their own money in community. These modules are helping them to prepare for their next steps.”   

An incredible tool for holistic development 

Angharad has a wealth of experience delivering ASDAN courses and was keen to tell us the impact this has had over the years.  

“I’ve delivered ASDAN everywhere I've ever taught! I've always contributed towards core curriculum, but in every setting whether an alternative SEND centre, a people referral unit or a clinical setting, there has always been that need to engage learners, developing their confidence and skills through a vocational platform. I wouldn’t have been able to deliver the core subjects without ASDAN and I've always had great outcomes through using it.” 

We asked Angharad what she would say to other settings considering using ASDAN. 

“Try it. Introduce it to your learners and then let them lead their own learning and watch the development. It's the most incredible tool for holistic development in young people. The courses can be implemented in any environment with a range of abilities and the same desired outcomes."  

"ASDAN courses are an amazing stepping stone for re-engagement with education, providing the chance for a positive experience and to overcome barriers. It's a multifaceted and lovely way of learning. It sets up young people with not only the skills, but opportunities and connections with the real-life world around them which they can continue using moving forwards”.  

Take a look at our suite of Short Courses and get in touch to find out more about how ASDAN can help your learners.