Stubbin Wood pupils learning vital life skills as they settle in as Sixth Formers

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Pupils at a special school are getting lessons in cooking, shopping and even housework after it opened up a new Sixth Form Centre this term.

Stubbin Wood School, in Burlington Avenue, Langwith Junction, is now catering for pupils all the way up to the age of 18 after the Centre started operating last month.

Stubbin Wood takes in pupils from the age of two, thanks to its on-site nursery unit, but has always had to say goodbye to them at 16, when they are free to go to college, find employment or enter Sixth Form education elsewhere.

Now they can extend their stay at Stubbin Wood by another two years and will use their time there focussing on learning the day-to-day skills that they need in order to live independent lives when they are adults.

There are currently three pupils in the sixth form – the capacity is 20 - and earlier this month they put their new-found skills to good use by serving a three-course meal to 20 people, including teaching staff, governors and parents.

Their other work will see them studying academic subjects such as English, Maths and ICT, taking part in community activities and work placements, as well as receiving much-needed physical therapy.

Stubbin Wood has around 130 pupils, all with moderate, severe or profound learning difficulties or an autistic spectrum disorder.

It has taken on another teacher and a new teaching assistant for its Sixth Form but the provision will really come into its own when the school relocates to its new premises in Common Lane, co-locating with Shirebrook Academy. Inside the £27m building, which is set to open in April next year, Stubbin Wood has a host of purpose-built facilities, including two sensory rooms, a sensory courtyard, a soft play room and a hydrotherapy pool.

Sixth Formers will have a dedicated outside coffee and relaxation space just for them and will also be able to take advantage of life skills areas, including a kitchen, bathroom and even a mock-up bedroom.

They will be at school full-time and will be encouraged to plan their week’s activities within a structured curriculum.

Lee Floyd, head teacher at Stubbin Wood, said the Sixth Form provision will allow the school to achieve a long-held ambition to provide the life skills that their pupils will need as they take the step from childhood into adulthood.

He said: “When I was a newly qualified teacher here, around 30 years ago, staff and parents wanted a sixth form for that very purpose, so it is very gratifying to be able to offer that option at long last.

“It will have significant benefits for our pupils. Previously, they have had to travel to Chesterfield, Alfreton or Mansfield for further education, but now they can stay on with us.

“Not only that, but it will give them an option they don’t have elsewhere, which is to learn important skills as part of an adult-focussed community in an environment that they are used to and feel safe in.”

One pupil who attends the Sixth Form Centre is 17-year-old Jenny Bryant, whose mum, Elaine, said her daughter is settling in well.

She said: “We are very pleased that Jenny has been able to stay on at Stubbin Wood. Our nearest school is 25 minutes away and although I am sure that she would have coped, it is so much easier this way.

“Jenny is severely disabled and is in a wheelchair so her ability to cope on her own is always going to be limited. However, she enjoyed the cooking and is enjoying being at Stubbin Wood.”