Falkland House School hosts visit from Youth Employment Minister to showcase employability projects

Pupils from Falkland House School, one of Scotland’s top providers of education for boys with additional support needs, today (Tuesday 28th April) welcomed Scottish Government Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, Annabelle Ewing, to the school to demonstrate a new skills and employability initiative they have been working on.

The initiative aims to provide the boys with practical experience through means of a cross curricular construction project and the setting up and running of a contract services company. Both projects have been designed to give them an insight into the world of work and enhance their skills in preparation for employment.

The invitation was issued by fifth year pupil Kieran Cruden who undertook a work placement with the Scottish Government at Atlantic Quay in Glasgow last December. As a result of this he met with Ms Ewing to talk about his experiences and then contacted to invite her to the school.

Stuart Jacob, Director of Falkland House School said, “We were delighted to welcome Annabelle Ewing to the school and talk her through some of the work we are doing to boost the boy’s employability, and prepare them for the workplace.

“One of the key philosophies of the school is not to change the world to accommodate young people’s difficulties, but to offer real and full experiences which give the boys the skills and resilience needed to meet life’s challenges.

“We are proud of the innovative work we are doing on skills and employability for young people with additional support needs and pleased that they are getting the opportunity to showcase this to Ms Ewing.”

Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment Annabelle Ewing said:“I had the pleasure of meeting two of the young men from Falkland House as part of their short work experience placements with the Scottish Government last year.

“From my visit today it is clear that this was just one great example of the work that Falkland House school is doing in terms of readying boys with particular needs for the jobs market.

“I hope to see more and more pupils on the same path as Kieran and use the training and personal development courses to help them fulfil their potential.”

Falkland House School was the first independent school in Scotland to gain Autism accreditation. They now have 75% of pupils with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis and also support Young People with SEBN, ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome.

The school has also been awarded nine Excellents and one Very Good by the Care Inspectorate. Falkland House School was the first school of its type to hold Excellent grades in every statement it had been inspected in by the Care Inspectorate. This makes it the highest educational establishment of its type in Scotland

As well as recognition from the Care Inspectorate the school was also shortlisted in the sixth annual Times Educational Supplement (TES) School Awards last year in the Special Needs school category, the only Scottish school to be shortlisted in this category.

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Letter to Editor: Cash for CAMHS

Dear Editor

As a coalition whose members deliver specialist care and education services for children and young people with complex needs, we have launched a petition calling on the Scottish Government to use the c. £25m of annual additional health spending arising from the UK Government Budget to improve mental health services for vulnerable children and young people in Scotland.

At the moment mental health services in Scotland are at breaking point, with the number of referrals for specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) increasing by 60% over the last two years. This is putting medical professionals under incredible pressure.

We do not dispute that our health professionals do fantastic work to help people suffering from mental ill health, but a lack of resources in the face of a dramatically increased demand means that we are often asking medical staff to work with one hand tied behind their back.

Due to a lack of adequate provision hundreds of vulnerable children and young people are being treated in unsuitable adult or paediatric wards, or being sent miles away from their families. And half of Scotland’s Health Boards are failing to meet waiting time targets to access CAMHS that came into force at the end of last year.
We would urge people to get behind the campaign and sign the petition, encouraging the Scottish Government to go that extra mile and ensure the mental health services many young people in Scotland so desperately need are being provided.

The petition is available to sign on the 38 Degrees website at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/investinmentalhealthscot

Yours faithfully

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition comprising:

Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Scotland
Tom McGhee, Managing Director, Spark of Genius
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland
Stuart Jacob, Director, Falkland House School
Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations

A is for Autism, E is for Expedition

A group of pupils and staff from Falkland House School, one of Scotland’s top providers of education for boys with additional support needs, will today (Wednesday 1st April) venture into the hills of Highland Perthshire to mark world autism awareness month.

The boys have been taking part in an expedition elective at the school which has prepared them with the skills and knowledge necessary to take care of themselves with comfort in remote environments. They will be completely self-sufficient for two days while carrying all they need to enjoy the new experience. But the most important part of their kit will be a large homemade letter A which they will carry to the top of their summit as part of their submission to ‘A is for Autism’

‘ A is for Autism’ is a campaign run by Scottish Autism which marks  autism awareness month by challenging groups and individuals to get as many people talking about autism as possible by getting creative and sharing homemade letter As. These can take any form and all entries will then be submitted via Scottish Autism’s facebook page with the winning entry being the image that gets the most likes.

The boys at Falkland House have crafted their own letter with the help of school staff and will take it with them as party of their expedition to ensure that the message of autism awareness month will reach even the quieter corners of the country.

Stuart Jacob, Director of Falkland House School said, “ As a school that specialises in the education of boys who require additional support for learning, many of whom are autistic, we are delighted to be taking part in World Autism Awareness Month.

“This is a great, innovative campaign from Scottish Autism and the boys were all really keen to take part when we discussed doing it as part of their expedition.  They have had a lot of fun planning this and we look forward to seeing all the other submissions and raising as much awareness as possible.”

Falkland House School offers a wide range of electives of a practical or sporting nature which have proved to be very popular and the boys have completed courses in hillwalking, skiing and sailing. As well as helping to develop team skills these challenging activities are helping to improve resilience. The experience also leads to achievement in SQA awards.

 

ENDS

 

For further information please contact Lynsey Ross at Orbit Communications on 0131 603 8996/ 0755 220 857 or email lynsey.ross@orbit-comms.co.uk

 

Opinion Piece: A is for Autism

Opinion piece from Stuart Jacob which appeared in The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday 2nd April.

April is Autism Awareness Month, with World Autism Awareness Day falling today. This sees campaigners globally try to raise further awareness of the condition.

Although clinicians first began to formally identify children in the early 1940’s, who would today be on the autism spectrum, there is still a great lack of understanding about autism and its effects. And it is this lack of knowledge that the awareness campaign aims to highlight.

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects the way in which a person communicates, interacts and processes information. The behaviours and challenges typically associated with autism are often a result of these differences in thinking styles and perceptions. This can be seen in the following three ways; social interaction, social communication and social imagination and flexible thinking.

For example, individuals on the autism spectrum may have difficulty understanding and responding to the perspectives of others. As a result they may find it difficult to form and sustain relationships. Another issue can be anticipating the social expectations in any given situation. Social rules can often  be difficult to retain and implement for people who suffer from autism, due to the different way in which their brains work. Difficulties in predictive thinking can also impact on an individual’s ability to organise themselves and fully understand the consequences of their actions. It also makes it more difficult to accommodate change.

Some people will have more subtle difficulties while others will have complex needs requiring more intensive support. It is estimated that around 1 in 100 people are on the spectrum.

While a precise cause for autism has not been established it is widely recognised that there are a number of biological factors involved which can impact on brain development. Environmental factors are also thought to play a role.

When it comes to a knowledge and understanding of autism there still remains a lot to be learned. More research is being carried out which will hopefully allow for earlier identification of the condition and timely interventions to support young people with autism.

We have however come a long way in supporting those young people with the condition, including the autism toolbox for schools, which includes up-to-date information from research and practical experience that is easy to understand and apply in the classroom, playground and home. In addition there have been some fantastic recent initiatives providing relaxed cinema and theatre performances. However, work still needs to be done to improve attitudes and understanding regarding people with autism, for example in increasing opportunities for employment.

Stuart Jacob