New learning base the first of its kind in the region

PUBLISHED: 15:00 29 July 2014

Ben McConkey and Matthew Barrett.

Ben McConkey and Matthew Barrett.

Archant

WORK has begun on a £1million Weston College development, which will provide state-of-the-art facilities for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

The two-part scheme at Knightstone Campus is due to finish in September and includes a workshop for courses including vehicles, painting, decorating, carpentry and bicycle maintenance.

The second phase will create a sensory learning base for students with profound and complex learning disabilities (PCLD) and includes specialist classrooms, independent kitchen-dining area and sensory room – the first of its kind in the region.

Assistant principal Linda Burlison said: “This is the first time we have been able to totally adapt these facilities for PCLD students and it’s wonderful they can now come here rather than have to go out of district.”

Student Matthew Barrett, aged 18, of Worle, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and will join the preparation for work and life programme at the new centre.

He said: “I was hooked from my taster days at the college. I have already learnt so much here.”

His dad, Garry added: “Without this specialist facility Matthew would have to go to residential college when he wanted to live at home and study locally.”

In 1981 there were just eight students who required additional learning support - now there are 980 people on further education courses and 57 higher education students receiving various levels of learning support.

Weston College also has a unique facility for people with autism – the 10-bedroom Weston Bay Hotel – which is the first of its kind in the UK.

It specialises in support for learners on the autism spectrum helping them to progress to higher education, independent living and employment.

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