At Hamilton Lodge we work hard to provide a caring and supportive environment where young people are assisted, through practical help, encouragement and calculated risk to acquire skills necessary to enable them to cope as an independent member of the community.
There are numerous informal and formal opportunities for learning e.g helping with shopping, cookery club, money management group as well as the independence programme which begins at 14.
During Yr 9, Key Workers gradually prepare residential pupils in their key worker group to become more confident and independent on trips out of school. Young people practise using public transport, leisure centres, shopping etc. with a member of staff nearby to help if necessary, preparing them to become more independent in the following years.
Pupils can go out independently in small groups once they reach the age of 14 and when they have successfully completed the Independence Training programme. Pupils fill in an off-site form giving details of the activity/reason for going out, where they will be going, the time of their return and how they will get there (bus, walk etc). This must be agreed by a Senior Child Care Officer before they can leave. Each young person must have a signed letter from their parents giving permission for them to go out on unsupervised activities. Students may go out alone once in FE provided they have reached appropriate levels of independence and have permission of their parents.
There is a supported independence group for young people who find it difficult to access the independence programme. Young people on this programme will receive extra support and go through the process at a slower pace than their peers.
Some young people will not be able to reach full independence because safety or physical factors preclude this. In these cases individuals will be subject to risk assessments outlining the level of independence they can achieve and if necessary mental capacity assessments to determine their level of self-determination in this process. The attitude is always that young people will reach the independence to the best of their abilities.
As part of our Life Skills programme, The FE Department offers some students the opportunity to develop their driving skills through regular classroom-based Driving Theory lessons, and access to a Driving Simulator.
Driving Theory lessons cover a range of topics including:
- General terminology
- Recognising road signs, signals and markings
- Consideration for vulnerable road users
- Driving in adverse weather
- Essential documents
- What to do if you breakdown
- What to do in accident
- Basic first aid
- Eco driving
- Wear and tear
- Levels of insurance (what is excess?)
- Safety considerations when driving alone
Practical sessions are also taught outside the classroom to enable students to learn how to carry out important safety pre-checks on a vehicle, and to experience road signs and markings out and about.
The Driving Simulator offers students the ability to practise these life skills and build confidence behind the wheel in the safest environment possible.
Through simulation and additional role-play, we can provide additional experiences that raise awareness and discourage unsafe activities (sometimes due to peer -pressure) such as:
- Drink driving
- Text messaging whilst driving
- Driving at speed
General distractions (internal or external)