Students at Doubletrees School are part of Game Changer to prepare and gain a better understanding of the transition from school to college or work. This has included extensive work with the Eden Project, as well other industry specific organisations, including the Cornwall Food Foundation.
Doubletrees School is in St Blazey, Cornwall, and they provide high quality education for young people aged 2-19 with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities. Tracy Crowle, Family Liaison Officer from Doubletrees School has been working alongside Game Changer since September 2018 and has seen first-hand the impact that the program has had on the students.
When Doubletrees School first made the link with Game Changer, the Game Changer team held one on one meetings with every student to establish their skills and interests, and what they could achieve from the project.
The Eden Project is a sector delivery partner for Game Changer offering placements. They built a learning garden this year, which is an ongoing project.
David Aynsley is the Game Changer Project Officer at the Eden Project and having met with the School, decided that Doubletrees students would benefit from being involved in the building and conservation of the garden.
The students have worked on the learning garden together, coming up with the building plans, and learning various gardening and teamwork skills.
David has noticed increased movement in some of the students that this is normally difficult for.
“Students show more motivation and their different competing needs are met”
He also spoke about how there is space at the garden for students to spend time on solo projects, or to work as part of a group. There’s no solid structure to the sessions, which means they’ve got the space to explore their individual interests.
This year, seven students are taking part in the programme with the focus including: bespoke work experience opportunities in their areas of interest, attendance to Eden Project’s ‘learning garden’ to develop skills and gain experience with other Game Changer members, along with exposure to different industry sectors to learn about different jobs – including off-site visits. It will also include practical sessions with activities to help develop key skills in areas such as teamwork, confidence and communication, and 1:1 support linking to developing competencies about going to College and work.
To date alongside the learning garden at The Eden Project, Game Changer has also organised sector specific trips and activities to help the students to understand jobs and learn new skills, including a trip to St Austell Brewery, DIY Skills sessions at the school (including tiling, painting and plastering), as well as hosting a meal for parents through working with Cornwall Food Foundation.
Four students have achieved a Bronze Arts Award- an Arts leadership qualification which included a trip to Sterts Theatre with three working towards one this year where they attended the Illuminate Light festival in Plymouth.
Real Ideas is also currently working on a learning pathway through Cities of Learning, which will provide the students with ‘digital badges’ when they are involved in Game Changer activities. Game Changer is hoping that this is something the students can help develop.
Tracy Crowle, at Doubletrees thinks the students have benefitted immensely from working alongside the Game Changer programme.
“I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Real Ideas.”
Kate Rowlands, a Real Ideas Consultant on Game Changer spends Monday’s with the students, providing them with 1:1 support and guidance, alongside working with them to gain an Arts Award.
This weekly contact time is important for the students to develop a meaningful and communicative relationship with the Game Changer program, and also helps to develop competencies about going to college and work.
The Game Changer programme also works alongside the Gatsby Benchmarks, which Doubletrees School strives towards. This includes linking curriculum learning to careers, experiences of workplaces, and encounters of employers and employees.
Ashley is a student involved with Game Changer and the development of the learning garden at Eden; as a wheelchair user, it is more difficult for him to be involved with the practical side of things, however, he was able to help with the planning of the garden, something he enjoyed as he has a keen interest in construction. He’s looking forward to the garden having an accessible pathway, so he can go up and appreciate it with the other students.
He also loved the DIY skills sessions that were organised as part of developing skills; he likes getting hands on and loved learning more about bricklaying and the other elements involved in construction.
Daniel is another student on Game Changer. Within the garden at Eden, Daniel helped with planting seeds, picking vegetables and likes to see the sunflowers grow, he said he really enjoys his frequent visits.
Other highlights have been: Helping to chop bread for the parent’s meal at school and pouring a pint at St Austell brewery! Although these could be considered small tasks, it’s a great way for the students to have a hands-on approach to workplace learning, and to explore where their passions and interests lie.
You can visibly see how excited the students are when they talk about Game Changer, and because it’s ongoing, they are able to see the impact they’ve made on areas such as Eden’s learning garden.
These sorts of hands on experiences such as attending the learning garden improve teamwork, confidence and communication skills.
Tracy, David, Kate and the students all seem excited about the program being ongoing, and enthusiastic about what other work they can do together through Game Changer.