Awards for Notts pupils on board with independent travel
More than 80 pupils with special educational needs and disabilities from eight schools across the county, including Arnold, Carlton, Cotgrave, Kirkby, Newark and Bramcote, have received awards to mark their achievement of being an independent traveller.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s independent traveller training scheme helps boost young people’s confidence and self-esteem by preparing pupils with special needs with the skills they need to make their own way from home to school or college each day. This includes using public transport, identifying hazards and using landmarks to make the journey safely.
Freya and Alfy, both 14 years old and pupils at Brakenhill School in Kirkby, picked up awards for being ‘independent travellers’ and were proud to show off their certificates after the ceremony held at County Hall, West Bridgford on Friday 5 July. The ceremony was also attended by school support staff, parents and representatives from local transport operators who help support the scheme.
When asked what they like most about the programme, Alfy said “It makes us more independent. Someone used to have to come with me wherever I went but now I really enjoy going on nature walks on my own or into town to meet my friends.”
Freya said “The scheme has boosted my confidence a lot. I used to be afraid to go out on my own but last week, I walked from school to a nearby tea room for cake and milkshake. I would never have been able to do that before completing the programme.”
Freya’s mum added "The programme has really helped Freya progress in her independence and confidence. It has given her the tools to be able to see and explore the world through her own eyes and experiences rather than depend upon an adult to do this for her. It is a life-long skill that she can use to improve her quality of life."
This experience and the skills of being a more independent traveller is helping other young people to further education, work experience and increasing their chance of employment.
Pupils from Arnold Hill, Derrymount and Christ the King in Arnold, Ash Lea school in Cotgrave, Newark Orchard, Carlton Digby, Brakenhill in Kirkby and Foxwood Academy in Bramcote are among the 120 pupils at 15 schools and colleges currently participating in the scheme, with over 20 staff from schools, colleges, the voluntary sector and transport companies trained to coach the students taking part.
Jake, 18, a pupil at Newark Orchard School said “I decided to take part in the programme so I could get around more easily and it’s really helped me because now I feel confident enough to get on buses on my own.”
Pupils aged 16 and over who graduate from the scheme celebrate their new independence with a trip to Skegness, travelling on their own by bus to meet the course tutors there and spend a week in the Butlin’s seaside resort. Jake said “I’m really looking forward to going to Skegness with my course mates and I’m going to miss the course now it’s over.”
Paul Housley, Travel Training Coordinator at Newark Orchard School said “We’re incredibly proud of all the students. They are always really keen to do the course and it’s great to see their confidence grow. It also means a lot to know you are helping them gain the independence to be able to socialise with their peers who might live quite far away in another town or village.”
Since 2011 over 500 students have received independent travel training with many becoming fully independent and travel to school, college, training or work placements using public transport or walking.
Vice Chairman of the Council’s Communities and Place Committee, Councillor Phil Rostance, who presented the awards said “This scheme is a fantastic way to support young people to be more independent. Most of us will remember the sense of freedom of travelling to school on your own. It can be a real milestone of independence.”
“The scheme not only helps more young people to feel ready to travel on their own, which brings many benefits for them in the long-term, it also reduces reliance on alternative forms of transport which can often be expensive.”
“Newark Orchard School, who recently received a ‘Good’ rating from OFSTED, rated the Travel Training scheme as ‘Outstanding’ which is a fantastic achievement for the school and the County’s Travel Training team.”