Donkey Days!

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by News Team

Four Oaklands students and three staff recently spent a day at the Donkey Sanctuary in Buxton.

The centre has around 50 donkeys, some of whom will be available for rehoming.   We learnt all about looking after donkeys and enjoyed grooming and spending time with a range of donkeys and mules.  Arnie, the huge shaggy Poitu donkey was very popular!  The Poitu is a French breed of donkey and is as tall as a small horse!

We also met Eddie one of the donkeys who is a bit of a local star having appeared in Carmen at Buxton Opera House and regularly appears in nativity plays in the area!

Students are looking forward to fostering two donkeys from the Donkey Sanctuary but before we are allowed to foster we have to prove that we are able to look after them properly.

At the end of our day we took an exam and we all passed!   Well done to all that passed the Donkey Sanctuary Training Introduction to Donkey Care – Stage 1.

David Biddle, Principal


The Poitu Donkey

Oathill Lodge Girls Meet the Animal Stars

Posted on: September 17th, 2013 by News Team

Heythrop Park Zoo is where some of the most famous animals in England live with their trainers. Girls from Oathill Lodge had teh chance to get up close and personal.

Heythrop Park Zoo held its annual open day over the weekend, giving the animals the rare opportunity to show off their talents.

The girls spent the day handling bearded dragons, snakes and foxes.  They were then invited to watch a breath-taking show put on by the large predators and their trainers.

The show included Leopards showing off their jumping skills, a Polar Bear demonstrating how they catch its prey and Lions showing how they look fierce in front of the cameras.

This was a great day had by all!

Katie Allen, Residential Care Worker

Daredevils in Devon

Posted on: September 17th, 2013 by News Team

A group of extremely excitable and endlessly energetic children from Hillcrest Hayling Island took a trip to Skern Lodge activity centre in North Devon.

Powered by food in abundance each morning, afternoon and evening, our boys ensured that not a single member of staff was able to rest for much longer than 5 minutes at any stage.

Two hours of running around is clearly not enough activity between breakfast and lunch time, or indeed between lunch time and dinner time…  We played a lot of football.

A highlight of the holiday was the high level of professionalism and efficiency with which all of our organised activities were delivered by the team of instructors. We were able to tell the boys what was happening at any given time, and for a group of 8-11 year olds such a reliable structure was no doubt a significant factor in the success of the trip.

From archery to beach walks, tunnelling to high ropes, there was no shortage of entertainment at any point. There were times when our instructors’ faces hinted at slight – if not total – bemusement at the comments, questions and sheer volume generated by our often chaotic group, but by the end of the trip our main instructor seemed as if he would genuinely miss us and the positive involvement of the children.

Tim Hobbs, Residential Care Worker

Archery at Skern Lodge

The Bartons Community Project Work

Posted on: July 15th, 2013 by News Team

For the past several years The Bartons have been involved in several volunteering projects within the local community as well as numerous fund raising events for charity.

Some of our current projects involve gardening and maintenance at People’s Park in Banbury. This has involved lots of hard work planting and tending to the flower displays in the park.

Our young people have also been involved in building and maintaining a chicken enclosure for Glebe House, which is a local nursing home. In addition to this they have put on carol singing at Christmas and baked cakes for the residents.

Our most recent project was set up by one of the staff as a result of him overhearing some of the boys talking in derogatory terms about homeless people.  To help the young people better understand this issue he set up a project at The Soup Kitchen for the homeless in the centre of Oxford. The boys that attend spend time cooking and serving, as well as washing up! They are a very popular addition to the volunteers who staff the project full-time.

Each one of our 8 young people at some time or another have voulenteered and are happy to do so. We have seen the boys derive a huge sense of pride in helping people less fortunate than themselves.

We are very proud of our young people who give their time to these projects, and are able to see first hand that  there are others less fortunate than themselves.

Alex Dodd, Team Manager

Peoples Park, Banbury

Peoples Park, Banbury

An Artist in Our Midst

Posted on: July 15th, 2013 by News Team

A young person from HIllcrest Steps recently entered the Young Art Oxford competition 2013 and out of thousands, his picture was chosen to be exhibited in The Ashmolean Museum Oxford.

The title for the competition was “What I Love”.  Our young person’s eclectic interpretation of this included a basketball, a burger a football boot and a pawn, representing his love of chess. The young person said he had to include all 4 images in his picture, as he couldn’t decide which one he loved the most!!!

He had the honour of seeing his work exhibited when he attended the exhibition on a school trip last week.

The competition organisers offer the artists the opportunity to have their picture put onto a canvas, so a lifelong keepsake is on its way.

Sadie Dangerfield, Home Manager

The Ashmolean Museum Oxford

The Ashmolean Museum Oxford

Poppy Boys Visit Mercedes World

Posted on: July 15th, 2013 by News Team

Poppy Lodge young people and staff recently visited Mercedes World in Surrey for the day.

They spent their time looking around the museum at modern and vintage cars, going around the attractions and also sat in the sun to watch the adventurous Silver Arrows Display Team.

After a bite to eat, the boys had some photographs taken with their favourite cars and also with the Silver Arrow professional drivers.

A great day for all!

Bret Noades, Home Manager

Mercedes World

Mercedes World

Oaklands Student Competes in Dressage Event

Posted on: July 15th, 2013 by News Team

A young person made history by being the first Oaklands student to compete in a horse riding event.

Our young person took part in a dressage competition at Hargate Equestrian Centre where she came third scoring 60.4%, which is a significant achievement.

Dressage competitions require horse and rider to perform a series of set moves in walk and trot.  The combination is then judged on how well they perform the movements.

David Biddle, Principal

Hayling Island get the Gardening Bug

Posted on: July 15th, 2013 by News Team

The staff and young people at Hayling Island bring some colour and tranquillity to the garden.

Now that summer is upon us! We decided it was time to bring the garden alive. We bought 2 olive trees which then inspired us to have a beach/Mediterranean theme across the front of the house. The boys picked up some drift wood from the beach which added the finishing touch.
We also had specially built two 10 foot oak planters for the back garden, which we have filled with geraniums, bizzie lizzies and geraniums. We have also planted tubs and hanging baskets which the boys were keen to help with.

The pond area is alive with tadpoles and wild flowers, this area, which has been designed upon therapeutic principles, is often used for quiet reflection by both staff and young people.

All the hard work has been driven and coordinated by Carole Mundy and Mike Stephens. An excellent project enjoyed by all.

Mike Spencer, Home Manager

Flower beds at Hayling

Flower beds at Hayling

Oaklands Students Meet Legendary Horse Whisperer

Posted on: April 18th, 2013 by News Team

Three students from Oaklands and their teacher, Beverley Parker, recently attended a demonstration by the legendary Monty Roberts – the original horse whisperer.

Monty grew up in California and his own experiences with a violent father helped to shape his non-violent approach to training horses.

By watching horses in the wild and working with his own horses from a very young age, Monty learned the language of Equs – and set about using it to show the world that horses respond to leadership and that once you have established a bond – or “join-up” that horse will quite literally follow you anywhere.

Monty has worked with horses all over the world – including the Queen’s racehorses!

One horse was brought by his owner to the demonstration because he bucked her off all the time and was scared of everything.  The students watched on as Monty taught the horse not to be frightened, so that it would accept a plastic bag being rattled at it, over it, under its feet; and after about half an hour the same horse happily accepted a rider on his bag without bucking.  Amazing!

The students were then able to practice some of the techniques Monty taught them on the College horses, and produced a classroom display.

David Biddle, Principal

Horse whisperer

Monty the Legendary horse whisperer

Tesco Mum of the Year

Posted on: April 18th, 2013 by News Team

Congratulations go to our Director of our Autism Services- Anna Kennedy, who has won Tesco Mum of the Year 2013.

Tesco judges said: ‘‘Anna’s singlehanded determination to help families living with autism, while also being a full-time carer to her two sons, is truly inspirational.’’

Anna says, ‘People with autism shouldn’t be hidden. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I want all children, including my own boys, to have the chance to make a mark on the world just like everybody else.’

Tesco Mum of the Year

Anna with her award