New centre opens in High Wycombe to give Young People with Learning and Support needs a chance to learn life and work skills on their doorstep

  |  Published: May 27th 2016
Cllr Noel Brown and Jo Walden from Amersham and Wycombe College opening the Lifeskills Centre
Cllr Noel Brown and Jo Walden from Amersham and Wycombe College opening the Lifeskills Centre

A specialist education centre designed to help young people with learning and support needs gain work and life-skills has opened its doors in High Wycombe.

Following the success of the trail blazing specialist learning skills centre that opened in Aylesbury in 2012, a larger state of the art specialist vocation education facility has been built. The Future Life Centre forms part of the Flackwell Heath campus at Amersham and Wycombe College.

Before the Aylesbury project launched, there was no in county provision for young people with complex needs to study, so ninety percent had to move out of county. That figure has now been reduced to less than ten percent.

The facility is one of the first in the UK to focus on vocation and employment, as well as living more independently and academic studies, thus offering greater opportunities for young people with communication difficulties including hearing impairment. The National Trust and Sainsbury’s are but two of the partner employers involved in the new provision which gives over sixty students a chance to study and prepare for employment.

There’s no fixed curriculum; instead programmes are developed based on student’s individual goals. They’ll be given opportunities to run businesses including an on-site laundry and café, along with scope for work experience at venues like Waddesdon Manor. They’ll also be helped with skills for budgeting, staying safe, using public transport independently, keeping fit and cooking meals.

Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing Cllr Mike Appleyard said: “The range of activities that young people are going to do here is quite amazing. We can cater in the complex for quite a lot of people, probably 150-200 people during a week. Large numbers that we have not been able to provide this facility to before.”

Jo Walden, Head of Student Services at the College, added “We feel extremely privileged to have this facility for the local community on campus and our students are already benefitting from it. The college is now in a much stronger position to provide education and support for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities and to ensure they have the best possible start in life.”

A short film of the launch can be found here: https://youtu.be/E5TyO5CNwvQ

Campus facilities include:

  • Two fully equipped classrooms with the latest learning technology and outside learning spaces
  • Chill out room/quiet space
  • A craft room with its own outdoor space
  • Fully equipped and accessible kitchen
  • Sensory garden and communal garden area
  • Domestic skills room
  • Therapy room to carry out speech and language, occupational and behaviour therapy
  • A central multi-purpose social area for students
  • Disabled toilet and wet room facility
  • Designated drop off and pick up point for transport

Centre therapies include:

  • Speech and language therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Music therapy

The Future Life Centre is able to offer a broad range of educational experiences as a result of its partnerships with agencies which include; MacIntyre No Limits, Talkback Equip, Oxfordshire NHS, Buckinghamshire NHS and Chiltern Music.

Students accessing the Future Life Centre are designated by their Local Authority as High Needs Learners and as such, most families are referred to the College. 

The same bespoke educational experiences are offered at the College’s Amersham Campus through the New Ways Bungalow, a small independent living unit.

Work within the Future Life Centre may provide a platform for progression onto a college course in either the Foundation Studies department, at pre-entry level, or on a vocational course from level 1 to level 3.

For more details on the scheme, please contact Andy Holmes on aholmes@buckscc.gov.uk or 01296 382293.

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