Sixth Form Success for Matthew
Janet, Mum of Matthew, tells us about their experiences of St John’s
Matthew is a part-time residential pupil at St John’s – he attends school all week but, despite living nearby with his family in Boston Spa, he stays over at school twice a week. He is 17 and attends the school’s Sixth Form. Until last year, he was in mainstream education which was not meeting his needs.
His Mum Janet visited the school and spoke with the Care Team, giving her perspective on the support Matthew receives and the progress he has made.
She said: “We had wanted him to come to St John’s for a long time and we were thrilled when he was placed here by the local authority.
“Mainstream was never right for Matthew. For someone with his complex communication needs, sitting in GCSE classrooms listening to physics or maths lessons must have been like listening to something in a foreign language. Now he is working on things he feels he can actually achieve and is really enjoying his course.
“We did have anxieties about him being away from home – he has never been away from us overnight, but we felt it was important for his development to be more independent and to spend time with his peer group.
“Matthew was also anxious about this but his anxieties were more practical too. He’s not good with money and at mainstream, he had to take dinner money every day. It’s great at St John’s because he doesn’t have to bring any dinner money, so that’s one less worry for him.
“He loves the activities on the evenings he stays over such as going to the cinema and while he was anxious about staying for two nights, he’s much better now. I can tell because the number of texts I receive has gone done from about 30 initially to just a couple now, and they’re usually about what he’s eaten! They reduced quickly actually and we think that’s a really good sign.
“In the mainstream school Matthew was quite isolated really and spent time only with adults, and usually on a one-to-one basis, so this has been a great chance for him to be with lots of children his own age and for him to learn about banter and chatting.
“It’s also a chance for him to learn more independent skills. I’m guilty of doing too much for him but this shows me that he can do things for himself – he can put the washing in the machine for example. I’ve seen him grow in confidence in that sort of thing and he is offering to help more too.
“The communication between the school and home is constant and it is excellent, it has definitely made things much easier.
“Matthew is enjoying being at the school and is enjoying his course. I just can’t believe it’s going so quickly! I want time to slow down.”