Preparing learners for life after school

Published

Supporting post-16 learners to gain new life skills from community-based activities is one of the key aims of a special school in Gloucestershire. We interviewed Assistant Headteacher and Head of FE Cathy Bradshaw about her work and the supportive role ASDAN plays.

The Shrubberies School, which educates learners aged two to 19 with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties, delivers ASDAN’s Personal Progress Entry 1 qualification. 

Litter picking: students develop
teamwork skills and improve
their local community

“Our post-16 department caters for students with the highest level of need in the school,” explained Cathy. “Many go into social care provision because they have complex difficulties. We wanted to deliver a community curriculum that prepared learners for life after school – we feel strongly that you are not preparing students for adult life if they are not going out into the community.”

Personal Progress has helped the school provide a high quality community-based curriculum.

“The flexibility of the course enables us to achieve outcomes in the community, ensuring that activities we undertake reflect real life. What’s more, Personal Progress provides a structure for our community curriculum, where students initially learn skills in the safe environment of the school before developing these in the outside world. The course allows us to engage learners by tailoring the curriculum to meet their needs.”

Personal Progress has been used to accredit activities including:

  • volunteering at Gloucestershire Orchard and the Cotswold Canals Trusts
  • participating in community projects such as on a community allotment, litter picking and a local recycling scheme
  • using community retail and leisure facilities
  • work experience at a bike upcycling project, local nursery and shop

Undertaking Personal Progress has brought huge benefits for learners. “One student with severe learning difficulties was very disengaged and had challenging behaviour,” said Cathy.

“He would sit on the iPad in class and not engage with anything – he was in his own world. However, the student’s volunteering activities with Gloucestershire Orchard and Cotswold Canals Trusts had a profound effect on him. He learned to communicate more effectively, developed more independence and resilience, enhanced his problem solving ability and gained new employability skills.

A visit to the bowling centre:
students learn how to access
community facilities

Even though he has now left the school, he continues to volunteer for Gloucestershire Orchard Trust. This is just one example of how activities, inspired by Personal Progress, have increased learners’ confidence and self-esteem.”

Another benefit of Personal Progress is that the wide range of units available ensures students gain skills across the curriculum.

“Personal Progress guarantees a broad and balanced curriculum, with students gaining skills in areas including English, mathematics, independent living, personal development and preparing for work."

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