Published: 14:52, 29 March 2021
| Updated: 14:56, 29 March 2021
The Kent Messenger’s charity of the year, Five Acre Wood, has unveiled ambitious plans as it looks beyond lockdown.
As for all education settings, this past year has been one of adaptation and quick thinking at the Maidstone school, which supports children and young people with profound, severe and complex learning difficulties.
For example, hubs have been cordoned off with fencing to ensure social distancing at the main Boughton Lane site and an in-school track and trace system has been set up.
However, now with the full cohort of pupils returned, staff are looking at what’s coming next and they’re determined to offer pupils even more opportunities.
Richard Dalton, head of satellite classes in Palace Wood and Snodland, said: “We are going to be pushing forward to get our guys out in the community, having the opportunity to develop work related skills.”
The school is in the process of securing a tenancy for a retail unit in Larkfield, which they will transform into a tea and coffee shop. The students can gain hospitality experience from this, Mr Dalton said.
Working with Little Fant Farm, in Farleigh Lane, there are also plans for a horticulture and construction area for students covering about two acres.
They are also on the hunt for more volunteer positions within the community, with Maidstone Museum already offering roles.
Finally, an eBay shop is being set up for the pupils to improve their digital skills.
In 2018, Five Acre Wood launched Grow 19, a further education college for students after they leave the school at 19.
However, these new opportunities will be expanded to secondary school age pupils.
The Kent Messenger is supporting the school’s Buy a Brick campaign, aiming to raise £50,000 towards a house in Snodland. It won’t be inhabited, but older pupils, aged 15 to 19, can practise life skills there.
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