“My Independence gives SEND students the confidence to take control of their own lives.”
My Independence is a suite of four certificated programmes for young people with special educational needs working from pre-Entry level to Entry level 3, developed by ASDAN in partnership with the National Development Team for Inclusion.
My Independence programmes ensure learners develop the broad range of skills needed to transition successfully into adulthood.
New Barn School caters for pupils aged between 7-18 years with an education, health and care plan (EHCP). Their Nurture Lead, Phil Brunton, shares how My Independence has sky-rocketed students’ self-belief and social skills, enabling them to continue their education and thrive in the community.
“Many of our younger students were unable to cope academically or emotionally with the transition to secondary school," says Phil. “Instead of deferring these students, I began a nurture group in 2021 to support students with the transition and help those who needed to be reintegrated back into education after a long time away.
“We chose to deliver ASDAN’s new My Independence with this group, and it’s been perfect. It’s filled the gap in our curriculum,” says Phil. “The modules encourage students to start thinking about careers, identity, skills and personal interests.
“Students find the My Independence activities achievable and have become more self-sufficient with their learning. We deliver three of the four My Independence programmes – Realising Aspirations, Exploring Aspirations, and we’ve recently started Transforming Aspirations because the others have worked so well,” says Phil. “My Independence gives students confidence in their abilities.”
Develops practical life skills
My Independence courses have been developed around the four preparing for adulthood pathways:
- friends, relationships and community
- good health
- independent living
“We’re able to tailor activities to the students’ needs”, says Phil. “We’ve found that food technology has been brilliant for covering a breadth of topics for the Good health and Independent living modules.
“Baking challenges students to plan a meal, buy its ingredients, learn safety in the kitchen and develop fine motor skills. They so enjoy it and feel great pride in their bakes. This is a great example of how My Independence certificates skills progression in engaging subjects of interest to students.”
Encourages community integration
“My Independence modules lend themselves really well to going out into the community.
We’ve started a partnership with Lancing College who have a working farm, which we can visit weekly to do practical farm work,” says Phil.
“Our off-site learning provides evidence for My Independence, for example one mathematics task in Transforming Aspirations is Identify different 2D/3D shapes found in the community. Students identified road signs and took pictures of different shapes in their surroundings to make into a collage. They absolutely love the practical learning that My Independence allows.
New Barn School uses off-site learning to provide evidence for My Independence. “We have a lovely planter outside our classroom where our students are growing vegetables, fruit and wild flowers as part of The environment unit in Transforming Aspirations,” says Phil. “We all went to the local garden shop and the students took ownership and chose a plant to grow.
Example of My Independence evidence sheet demonstrating outdoor learning.
“Not only does this practical work broaden their comfort zone and give them confidence in exploring outside the nurture room, but students are also developing social skills without thinking about it,” says Phil, "they absolutely love the practical learning that My Independence allows.
“Our students have also made connections with the local library. One student signed up and took books out of the library for the first time, which was quite a life-changing situation for them. My Independence gives students the confidence and skills to take control of their own lives.”
Nurture group students at Lancing College's farm, exploring animal care and feeding livestock.
Flexible, person-centred resources
ASDAN’s person-centred planning toolkit can be used across all four My Independence programmes and supports teachers to help plan a student’s future within a range of different life situations.
“All My Independence activities and resources are person-centred, so I can adapt the programme to suit individual students’ abilities, which is brilliant,” says Phil. “The programmes also support the statutory PSHE curriculum.
“ASDAN are excellent in their communication. New Barn School has used ASDAN courses in the past, so we knew My Independence would be feasible and friendly to our students,” says Phil. “As teachers, My Independence has been easy to manage. It was useful to buy the My Independence ring binders so students could take pride in their work.”
Boosts social engagement and self-regulation
“The students’ parents have definitely noticed that their children have become much more socially active since taking part in My Independence,” says Phil.
“A year ago, one student’s friend left our school, and he found it really hard to keep regulated when that friendship ended. My Independence activities really helped with this with, for example, the Relationship circle resource from the person-centred planning toolkit.
“Since working through these activities, he’s able to go out and engage with people and talk through his feelings. He’s much more resilient and knowledgeable about ways of keeping happy. He’s always outside at playtime and has five or six friends he can rely on and now loves being in school,” says Phil.
“My Independence activities are good for students’ mental health and helping them to be aware of how to be socially active.”
Regularly certificates personal achievements
A total of 22 certificates are available after completing each preparing for adulthood pathway or My Independence module.
“My Independence provides a good foundation and helps all types of learner to achieve,” says Phil. “The programmes are especially good for low-level learners, but it’s easy to extend the goal and to challenge learners of higher abilities.”
“The programmes boost students’ confidence and give them pride when they achieve their certificate,” says Phil. “New Barn School’s Deputy Headteacher awarded students their certificates – to have a senior staff member visit the nurture group and recognise their achievement was wonderful. The achievements of ASDAN programmes were highly commended.
“My Independence provides a structure to build students’ social skills and develop their ability to communicate their aims and ambitions so that we can help to carve a pathway for them,” says Phil. “Everyone’s enjoyed ASDAN’s My Independence, I’ve never delivered a course like it. It’s fantastic.”
Phil Brunton, Nuture Lead at New Barn School
Not sure which My Independence programme is right for you? Download ASDAN’s learner profile tool PowerPoint, answer the questions and get a recommendation for which My Independence course suits your learners best, based on their needs.