HRH The Countess of Wessex praises the difference LVS Oxford makes to learners with Autism

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex today praised the work of a school established to develop the potential of young people with autism after officially opening LVS Oxford.

LVS Oxford instills confidence and builds learning and independent living skills as well as focusing upon academic and employment goals for its 48 current pupils, many of whom has been outside of mainstream learning prior to coming to the school in Begbroke.

LVS Oxford, and its sister school LVS Hassocks in West Sussex – both of which have Her Majesty The Queen as their Patron – seek to reverse the trend of just 15%4 of adults with autism being in full-time paid employment.

The Countess of Wessex saw a horticulture class taking place, and commented: “It is great that the curriculum here includes working outside, and that learning has a vocational purpose to it.”

The Countess enjoyed a full tour of the school with its 18-year-old head boy Charlie Goode and head girl Holly Balchin, including a look inside the school’s provision for weekly residential learners who attend from 11 different local authorities.

Charlie told Her Royal Highness of his plans to study ICT at university next year, and 15-year-old Holly revealed her ambitions to follow a career in the police force.

Charlie’s mother, Carol, who attended the opening, acknowledged the influence LVS Oxford had played in his development: “The school has been his life saver, before joining he was out of education for two years.  He has grown in confidence and self-esteem at the school and is now in the right learning environment for his needs.  He is now planning to go to University next year”.

The Countess of Wessex’s tour included a visit to areas of learning and development for learners including a ‘life skills’ room, where learners practice home based tasks such as cleaning, vacuuming and bed making, and met the school’s therapists who talked about their role in building social and emotional wellbeing through blending therapy throughout the classroom curriculum and timetabled social skills sessions.  The Countess also saw four classrooms where learners are currently studying for their GCSE, A-levels and BTECs.

The event was supported by autism advocate Anna Kennedy and representatives from local education authorities who place children at the school, and concluded with Her Royal Highness unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion, addressing guests and receiving gifts from learner Morgan. 14-year-old Morgan said: “I was really nervous before going up on stage, but I am now really pleased with myself as I overcame my worries which will give me confidence for the future”.