Grantham special school celebrates key to autonomy with Lord's Taverners £56,000 minibus donation
A £56,000 minibus has become a lifeline for a school which is striving to empower their young pupils.
Grantham Additional Needs Fellowship (GANF), a school for pupils aged between three and 19 with moderate to severe learning difficulties and complex needs, received a 16-seat accessible minibus from the Lord's Taverners.
This vital addition is set to make a significant impact on the lives of the more than 248 pupils, providing them with newfound opportunities for independence.
Officially handed over on Monday, the keys symbolise more than just transportation.
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For the pupils at GANF, this is a key to autonomy, offering them a chance to explore life beyond the confines of their immediate surroundings.
Kyna Adkins, interim headteacher at GANF, highlighted the importance of the new minibus, stating: “The pupils are exceptionally excited to have the new minibus, which will provide them with further opportunities to develop their confidence and experience in accessing the local community.”
The school caters to pupils with varying needs, including those on the autistic spectrum, living with ADHD, developmental delays, and profound learning difficulties.
The wheelchair-accessible minibus ensures every student can participate in therapeutic activities, events, and residential trips.
One of the challenges faced by pupils with additional needs is the difficulty in accessing the local community.
Public transport, with its sensory challenges and unpredictability, can be overwhelming.
Pupils may also present with communication interaction difficulties and can struggle with the social cues that others take for granted.
Wheelchair users can have issues accessing the types of services offered to many.
The new minibus directly addresses these issues, providing a safe means for students to experience the world beyond school.
Kyna highlighted challenges for pupils in accessing the community and the importance of being seen and valued for who they are are.
“There's constant work to do to help our pupils be included as possible, and quite often the education is with the rest of society, helping them realise that these pupils, as they go on to become young adults, are just as powerful a citizen with a voice and an opinion and they deserve to fit into our society, just like anybody else.”
The minibus will help pupils access outdoor education, camping trips, and activities like canoeing.
The school also runs a cafe on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Jubilee Centre in Grantham, and this will help get students to and from that venue.
Hospitality student Morgan said the new minibus was “cool”.
“I like it really much and I’m looking forward to going out in it,” he said.
He enjoys working in the cafe saying it game him confidence.
“It’s really cool, we sell a lot of cakes and there’s a lot of customers that we know,” he said.
Obtaining the minibus faced hurdles, with delays due to the pandemic and motor industry supply issues.
Despite the challenges, the Lord's Taverners honoured the application, recognising the urgency of providing GANF students with tools for an independent future.
Martin Darlow, interim director at Lord’s Taverners, mentioned this was the 1,266th minibus delivered since 1976.
Costing roughly £56,000, the school and Lord Taverners each contributed around £28,000.
“This is a great donation and puts a spring in my step,” said Martin.
He promoted sporting education, including disability cricket, and opening opportunities to participate.
He highlighted that: “If those kids do really well, there’s a pathway to disability teams that England fields all over the world… so it’s not just about participation but there’s opportunities in performance.
“Today is about giving the kids the opportunity to play cricket, to travel, to help Lincolnshire deliver on what these kids can do.”
Attending the event was Lincs Cricket chief executive Martyn Dobson who helps teach some of GANF’s pupils.
He hoped the minibus would be used for the upcoming Lincolnshire County Table Cricket finals.
“Cricket is a fantastic outlet in being able to take part in physical activity and the bus will help them to take part in interschool competitions, which can be really important.
“That chance to compete and play with other children who have a similar background can be really helpful to their development.”
Grantham Mayor Mark Whittington also praised the encouragement of children with disabilities in sports and other activities.
“We just saw all the happy smiling faces of the children and that’s important - it’s about the children at the end of the day,” he said.