Young People Speaking Up: Special schools and mainstream schools compared

Does attending special schools exclude young people from mainstream opportunities and social circles? We spoke to two young service users from Young People Speaking Up

My experience at St Francis, a special school, by Lindsey Sallabanks

I started St Francis when I was 11. The school was not any different to a mainstream school as they followed the national curriculum. I took a GCSE in English while I was there.

After education hours, there were clubs managed by staff. One of the most enjoyable for me was the youth club. This consisted of chatting, quizzes, guest speakers and discos put on by students. I also enjoyed an art club and drama club.

The school offered weekly boarding facilities to students but some commuted daily. I became a boarder from when I started. The boarding quarters consisted of separate quarters for males and females. These quarters were well equipped for people’s different needs.

Apart from teaching staff and support staff in the classrooms, there were residential staff who supported us with daily living.

I took archery while attending St Francis as one of the options on Friday afternoon which I really enjoyedI managed not to shoot anyone! This was made possible for people in wheelchairs by the use of a special stand for the bow.

I also enjoyed the media studies class and, as part of this, we went to Bradford Film and Photography Museum which was very interesting.

Overall I really enjoyed my time at St Francis to me it was just like any other school but with extra facilities.

My views on specials schools, by James Bryant

It was my first experience with a special school. I started off at a mainstream school and moving on to a special school was a big change. I now had to be picked up from home by a white bus.

I met a lot of new friends. I enjoyed playing games and doing plays.

At the mainstream school I had problems with numbers. There were too many people and the corridors were overcrowded. The school did not cater well for my needs. I needed a smaller environment, and so a special school was the right thing for me.

This article appeared in the magazine under the headline “A special place”

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