Visionary approach and new centre gives disabled kids chance

Student Kieron Rolston shows off his culinary skills to county councillor Mike Appleyard, fellow pupil Jedd Cullian and Aylesbury College principal Pauline Odulinski
Student Kieron Rolston shows off his culinary skills to county councillor Mike Appleyard, fellow pupil Jedd Cullian and Aylesbury College principal Pauline Odulinski

The launch of a cutting edge disability learning centre has ‘answered the prayers of a lot of parents’.

The Life Skills Centre at Aylesbury College was unveiled by Bucks County Council cabinet member for education Mike Appleyard on Tuesday.

The centre helps young people with learning disabilities become more independent and for Pat Wheeldon’s autistic son, Robert, 18, it is a lifeline.

She said: “It’s wonderful to have somewhere like this.

“They need more places like this, it’s been a long time coming and it’s answered the prayers of a lot of parents.”

The centre in Aylesbury is one of two, the other located in Amersham, and both have cost a combined £1.3 million to build as part of a collaboration between the council, Aylesbury College, Amersham and Wycombe College, disability charity Macintrye No Limits and many others.

Council education commissioner and visionary behind the centre, Helen Backus, said: “What we are doing is one of the first approaches in the UK.

“The fact the council have even heard me and didn’t say ‘go away’ is amazing.

“They really have been superb.”

The centre will provide tailored teaching for between 15 and 20 students on life 
skills such as budgeting, staying safe, travelling and healthy living.

Education is provided in work-based subjects and college courses chosen by the students, such as computer programming.

Student Jedd Cullinan, 18, said: “It’s really brilliant here, really enjoyable.”

Mr Appleyard added: “A particular interest is to make sure we are all looking after people with disabilities.

“For too long we have sent too many people out of the county for education.

“These students are going to be better able than a lot.”