Outstanding facilities for special needs students at Rotherham CollegePublished Wednesday, 8th January 2014
Youngsters with complex special needs going on to further education in Rotherham are to have a specialised service in the future.
Rotherham College of Arts and Technology is to develop its Rother Valley campus to provide an improved service for 16 to 24-year-olds who have complex autistic spectrum conditions and disorders. The project will see the redevelopment of an existing library space and courtyard area to create an employability and progression centre, as well as a quiet study and respite area.
The funding for the new facilities has come from a successful joint bid for £513,374 made by Rotherham College and the Council from the second round of the government's Demographic Growth Capital Fund.
The successful bid will replicate at the Rother Valley campus in Dinnington the excellent facilities that already exist at the town centre campus.
As part of making the bid, the Council and the College identified that there is increasing need in the borough for young people with autistic spectrum disorders, and made the successful bid for increased provision to meet this demand.
The new employability and progression centre will see the development of social enterprise activity, such as horticulture, retail and hospitality and catering. This will allow students to undertake training in a range of vocational areas through 'real work' experience, which prepares students for moving into employment but which is carried out within a closely supported environment.
The gateway area will be used to provide a quiet study area and also a respite area for students who have high anxiety, are susceptible to sensory overload or who experience a crisis point. Computer technology will be available, and will enable students to continue to study until they reach the point where they feel able to return to their classroom.
Gill Alton, Principal of Rotherham College, said it was "fantastic news" for both the local area and the College.
She added, "This is a great outcome and demonstrates the excellent partnership working between the local authority and the College. The work will be completed in the autumn term this year. Initially, students will be placed on programmes within the progression centre and will then be supported to move on to programmes across the College once they are familiar with the vocational environments.
"They will then be supported on this programme through the autism centre and employability hub to enable progression to employment, traineeship and apprenticeship outcomes."
Councillor Paul Lakin, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Services, described it as, "excellent news".
He added, "The provision will improve behaviour, attendance and achievement and support young people in Rotherham who want to go on to further education, but who have complex needs that often hold them back from the opportunities available."