June 22, 2024

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The Stockport school where pupils with learning disabilities thrive

3 min read
BBC Emma HouldcroftBBC

“We want all of the pupils to be happy and fulfilled,” says Emma Houldcroft, head teacher at Royal Manchester School

A charity providing education to children and young adults with complex learning difficulties and disabilities says there is no “ceiling” when it comes to aspirations for its students.

The Seashell Trust runs the Royal Manchester School, which is rated as outstanding by government inspectors, and the Royal Manchester College.

It claims that more than 20% of Seashell Trust students go into paid employment, which is more than four times the national average.

The trust, based in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, said it helped students learn how “to become more independent and live safe, creative and fulfilling lives”.


Mollie who went to Royal Manchester School and Royal Manchester College says her job is “my happy place”

Figures from the Nuffield Trust research institute show that just 4.8% of adults with learning disabilities have paid employment.

Mollie works for the Seashell Trust as a fundraising ambassador.

The 23-year-old, who has learning disabilities and attended both the Royal Manchester School and College, said she loved her job.

“It’s my happy place,” she said with a broad smile on her face.

“It makes me really happy and really excited.”

She added: “I can chat to people and just be happy and be with the fundraising team.”


Max has thrived in his work placement at Quarry Bank Mill and wants to work there after college

Meanwhile, Max, 22, has thrived during his work placement at Quarry Bank Mill, which is run by the National Trust.

“It’s a really nice place to work actually. I want to work there after college.”

Emma Houldcroft, head teacher of the Royal Manchester School, said: “We don’t have any ceiling for the aspirations we have for the students.”

Ofsted inspectors praised the school after its inspection in 2022, saying it was an “exciting and inspiring place to learn” and students were “extremely well equipped for adult life and the world of work”.

Ms Houldcroft said she wanted all of her pupils to be happy and fulfilled.

“We have a broad curriculum which helps the students to grow both in their independence and in their communication as well.”

Deputy principal Kate Watson

Deputy principal of Royal Manchester College Kate Watson said it works closely with employers and students to support work placements

The Royal Manchester College, which caters for students age 19-25, is aiming to get even more young people into work.

It has been praised by government inspectors for its “extensive range of work-experience opportunities” which has enabled students to experience different options and pathways into employment.

Deputy principal Kate Watson said: “We work with the employers around their risk assessments.

“What barriers do they have? What concerns do they have?

“We offer training to support them with that and not just with them but with their staff teams.

“We prep our students with working interviews and job carving [tailoring a student’s skills to the job demands],” she said.

“It’s not just a quick process and we’re proud of that.”


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