A class of their own
An education charity is helping children in ways their
schools can’t. Stephen Tomkins reports
Sophie (not her real name) seemed unlikely to get a work experience placement. She had severe autism and, at 14, could hardly talk, count or read. Other problems included anger management. She hadn’t been to school for months, but her mother wanted her to have a placement. So the school turned to TrinityLearning, the education support charity based in Trinity Church, Abingdon. Unable to find her anything else, the charity placed her in their own office. It was time consuming, requiring intensive planning and mentoring.
‘It was a challenge to find things to do,’ says Rosemary Perrow, Trinity’s Education and Development Officer (EDO) at the time. ‘We made worry boxes for the year sevens starting in September. We talked. She met user groups, made tea and coffee.’ On the fourth day, Sophie said: ‘My mum says, what are you doing to me? I’m a lot calmer.’ When she started back at school, she was talking and could be understood. The charity found her a weekly placement at a care home. ‘The school told us we had absolutely changed that child’s life,’ says Rosemary.
TrinityLearning began in 2009. The church had a Going for Gold grant from the United Reformed Church for a youth worker, but no youth, so they went to where the young people were, in local schools. Asking head teachers, staff and children which areas they most needed support in, the clear answer was wellbeing. Overworked, under-resourced and demoralised by Ofsted, staff were passing their own stress onto children…
TrinityLearning was recognised in the United Reformed Church Community Project Awards 2018 – a scheme sponsored by Congregational insurance. Stephen Tomkins is Editor of Reform
This is an extract from an article that was published in the April 2020 edition of Reform