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ASDAN courses boosting learners’ self-confidence and more

ASDAN’s Customised Accreditation is a bespoke arrangement where ASDAN accredits and certificates a course that an organisation has already written. It provides curriculum endorsement by our nationally recognised awarding body. Young person with blue hair outside a stable holding up their ASDAN certificate and smiling

Therapeutic Equines Assisting Learning CIC (TEAL CIC)
is a rural Surrey education setting and an ASDAN Customised Accreditation, member also delivering ASDAN Short Courses. We spoke to TEAL Directors Lucy-Ann Petto and Lisa Payne to discover why they chose to be formally recognised through ASDAN accreditation and how our courses boost young people’s self-belief.  

“We were delivering our own equine courses, but we wanted young people to gain accreditation from an awarding body with a national reputation, such as ASDAN” says Lisa.  

“We work with young people aged 12 to 23 with an education, health and care plan. Around 70% of our students have no educational placement. With many in care. Young people are sent to us when they aren’t coping in a traditional learning environment. The schools wanted us to become an official learning provision and offer recognised accreditation, which was a big incentive to become ASDAN-accredited.”  

“We looked into other accredited courses but ASDAN was the perfect fit. It has so much specifically aimed to help young people with additional needs – it works so well.” 

Two young men fixing a post on a farmTailored, interest-led courses boost social skills 

ASDAN Short Courses and Vocational Tasters are flexible, portfolio-based programmes designed to accredit up to 60 hours of activity and skills
development across a range of topics and curriculum areas for learners working at Entry level 3 to Level 1. 

“At TEAL CIC, we have horses, dogs, chickens and an ancient woodland area and converted an outhouse into a rustic classroom. We delivered ASDAN Short Courses and Vocational Tasters because young people were coming to us with a variety of career aspirations,” says Lisa.  

“ASDAN suits our young people’s needs and the way they learn. Alongside our own course, we offer ASDAN’s Land-based Sector Vocational Taster and Animal Care Short Course. We are also looking into delivering ASDAN’s Mathematics and English Short Courses,” says Lucy. “We love the way the challenges are set out and they’re focused on practical learning and team building.”  

“Some students come to us for one-to-one sessions as they really struggle with their anxiety. The challenge activities within ASDAN’s courses are fantastic,” says Lisa. “They incorporate so much teamwork, which is important for our young people who struggle with their social skills. Through the Animal Care Short Course, for example, our young people collaborate, share ideas, visit relevant locations like the zoo and have so much fun through learning.”  

Developing core skills through practical learning 

“One of our learners wants to work in farming and is volunteering on a dairy farm three days a week,” says Lucy. “He’s just completed ASDAN’s Land-based Sector Short Course and is now working in ASDAN’s Animal
Care Short Course.”

“He’s working towards an apprenticeship but only attended secondary school for six months and he needs maths and English to apply. He was worried, but we looked at ASDAN’s Mathematics and English Short Courses and reassured him that they were the same structure, design and language as the Short Courses he was already doing.”  

“He'd already been developing his writing and numeracy skills through the ASDAN Animal Care Short Course, with weighing and feeding the horses and assessing how much hay to order – he just doesn’t realise it because he was enjoying it! ASDAN courses are subtlety building all those core skills without being overwhelming.” 

Building confidence for further education and the workplace 

“ASDAN courses enable a brilliant transition into the workplace,” says Lisa. “We have a few students who weren’t able to cope in school, but since completing ASDAN’s courses, they’re thriving in a SEND college.  

Group of learners writing in ASDAN books on benches outside in the sun

“ASDAN’s Short Courses give our young people a sense
ownership and control because they can pick their own challenge activity according to their interests. A lot of our young people really struggle with decision making, so choosing a challenge within the course really boosts their self-confidence and independence,” says Lisa. 

“Some of our older learners carry on and mentor our younger leaners, which is lovely as they get to share the knowledge and skills they’ve learned,” says Lisa. 

ASDAN provides support and guidance 

“Everyone we’ve spoken to at ASDAN has been really lovely, supportive and made things easy. This was really nice as it was a bit scary for us initially!” says Lucy. 

“We want to thank ASDAN for doing everything they do and provide for such a fantastic learning opportunity for young people with additional needs.” 

"Everyone has the potential, but finding the right environment where young people can learn and being able to deliver the learning in a way that's tailored to them and encourages self-learning is crucial.” 

Accrediting life skills and raising aspirations 

“ASDAN courses and accreditation give our younger people the skills and preparation to reintegrate back into education, which is massive,” says Lucy. 

“For our older learners, ASDAN gives them the skills, knowledge and confidence to go on to college. For others, it gives them the life skills and self-belief to look at apprenticeships in an industry of interest to them.  

“ASDAN also gives young people the confidence to seek employment either with us or in the wider world. This is a huge achievement when you compare the three-year difference before and after they were with us,” says Lucy. “ASDAN courses cover all life skills.” 

Two young people standing outside holding up their ASDAN certificates

ASDAN certificates give young people personal pride 

“We have a big celebration when they receive their ASDAN certificates. Our learners are always eager receive them and ask us every week whether they’ve arrived yet!” says Lisa. 

“The biggest part of ASDAN courses and accreditation is their ability to build young people up from very low self-esteem, giving them the confidence that they can retain knowledge, develop and grow and help others do the same. “The self-belief that ASDAN courses give young people makes them feel amazing and able to move onto the next stage of their lives – it’s incredible to watch,” says Lisa. 

What parents and social workers say… 

“TEAL changed my son’s life and how he was coping with the everyday challenges of Autism and ADHD…learning around animals and their calming influence and amazing staff who manage his feelings really has changed our lives and we value the continued support and kindness of all the team.” 

 “The young people we take to TEAL always come away with a smile on their face and a sense of achievement.”  

Please contact if you have been inspired to share your centre's story or would like to find out more about ASDAN’s Customised Accreditation and Short Courses.