Brandles School: Baldock boys enjoy alternative learning activities

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 June 2018

Brandles boys met victims of hate crimes and created posters to raise awareness. Picture: Brandles School

Brandles boys met victims of hate crimes and created posters to raise awareness. Picture: Brandles School

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Students from Brandles School in Baldock have been taking part in alternative learning projects, giving them opportunities to develop skills in carpentry, design, nature and more.

Boys at Brandles have been working with Herts police on a 12 week boxing programme. Picture: Brandles SchoolBoys at Brandles have been working with Herts police on a 12 week boxing programme. Picture: Brandles School

Children at the school – which specialises in helping boys with social, emotional or mental health needs – have been working with Herts police, Tapps Garden Centre and Willmott Dixon, as well as taking part in a number of volunteering and life skills projects.

Angie Westwood, hate crime officer for Herts police, has been working in partnership with the school to teach them about hate crime where the boys have created posters to raise awareness, attended hate crime events and spoke with members of the public and victims.

The boys have also completed cycling proficiency days and have just started a 12-week boxing programme with Angie and colleague Lauren Taylor.

Engagement support worker at the school, Gary Wiggins, has been overseeing many of the projects, including those that test and develop nature skills.

They learnt all about teamwork as well as building independence on their trip to Mount Snowden. Picture: Brandles SchoolThey learnt all about teamwork as well as building independence on their trip to Mount Snowden. Picture: Brandles School

Mr Wiggins and his colleagues organised a trip for nine boys to visit Snowdonia and take on mount Snowdon.

He said: “Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that great, but the boys showed determination and resilience in climbing the mountain which helped develop their independence skills in preparation for their transition to college or work.

“All these projects prepare the students and help them to understand and process what a future employer may be looking for, as well as supporting the students to regulate some of their behaviours within the main school.

“None of this is possible without the dedicated commitment of the skilled teachers and teaching assistants within the school.”

Bushcraft Project allowed the boys to develop their nature and survival skills. Picture: Brandles SchoolBushcraft Project allowed the boys to develop their nature and survival skills. Picture: Brandles School

They also took part in the Bush Craft Project, which develops confidence and teaches students more about nature and survival skills, contributing to conservation project and learning how this can benefit to their own wellbeing and to understand what it is like to work as part of a team and individually.

Another project the boys have done in partnership with Herts police is a six-week programme where students are learning all about horse management, as well as learning to ride horses.

The students have also been building large garden planters for the nursery at Tapps Garden Centre.

Mr Wiggins said the project enables the students to learn about working within carpentry trade and gaining on site experience.

Boys at Brandles are learning all about horse management. Picture: Brandles SchoolBoys at Brandles are learning all about horse management. Picture: Brandles School

Separate to this, they have completed a build a boat challenge, where they created life-size canoes from scratch over a 12-week period.

A large part of the community projects are thought of by the students, with the help of Education, Learning, Skills & Achievement – a community interest company which places a greater emphasis on social and life skills while empowering young people.

So far, have been involved in four volunteering projects with ELSA, run by Jane Shipley.

She told the Comet: “The Brandles School students meet every week for six weeks, working with ELSA to deliver a project, fundraise or liaise with the local community in some way.

Brandles boys created flower boxes for Tapps Garden Centre. Picture: Brandles SchoolBrandles boys created flower boxes for Tapps Garden Centre. Picture: Brandles School

“This year has allowed the boys to begin to understand just what skills and qualities a future employer may look for. They discuss the project themes, and work independently on tasks allocated to them.

“I have enjoyed absolutely every minute of working alongside them and seeing them grow as individuals, in terms of aspirations, self esteem and socially.

“It has been an absolute delight and I cannot wait to do more from September and would love anyone to get in touch if they are a local business or organisation that wishes to be involved.”

Jane helped orchestrate many projects, such as taking part in a fundraiser for Lister Hospital’s neo-natal parent lounge rebuild, creating a morning visit and Christmas package for residents at Osbourne Court in Baldock, a Sports Relief activity day with local employer support and taking part in a sponsored walk with Johnson Matthey volunteers, and a cake sale in aid of North Herts Sanctuary, Stevenage Haven and Sun Street Baldock.

The boys created canoes from scratch. Picture: Brandles SchoolThe boys created canoes from scratch. Picture: Brandles School

Finally, Willmott Dixon have provided a computer programming course for students interested in block coding.

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