Children who are ‘school phobic’ in the wake of Covid and others wanting an alternative to mainstream education can turn to a new centre in Walkden.
The new mini school, Life Lodge in Westminster Road, is registered from April to take pupils after being set up to help students recover from the impact of lockdown which has left many youngsters suffering from anxiety.
School directors Selina Budgen and Sarah Darbyshire, who have both worked in special educational needs predominantly social emotional mental health (SEMH), set up the non-profit organisation after the lockdown in November.
Ms Budgen said: “We originally opened the business to deal with the after-effects of the pandemic. There are hundreds and thousands of young people now who are school phobic and have anxiety and depression that they’ve never had before.
“My daughter has learning needs and became a school phobic during the pandemic, so I felt it on the forefront.”
Selina since enrolled her daughter in alternative education and said: “It was the best thing I ever did for my daughter.”
The school offers a “wrap-around service” not only to the young person but the family in relation to that person as well.
Ms Budgen said: “We’re now a registered centre with NOCN, wo we can deliver all qualifications of any age and we consider exams in our centre so that means that we can venture out not just to the young people but also parents, carers out in the community.
“It’ so hard when your a parent to find the right type of nurturing place for your child. That’s why we offer 950 different types of qualifications all-around skills for life and building their self-esteem.”
The school also has its own therapy dog to help the students called Beauty, and a new recruit Princess the pug.
Both directors believe they have had a “great response” from the Salford community so far.
Ms Darbyshire said: “I feel like we’ve had a really good response and have helped a lot of people both through the community side and through kind of giving our professional advice and guidance through the next steps for their young person, when a child has become a school refuser.”
The alternative school in Westminster Road is expecting to be teaching 10-15 children from April. The directors described Life Lodge as a “bespoke school” that tailors to each child’s individual needs.
The directors of Life Lodge Alternative Education are holding a family fun day at Little Hulton cricket club so that the community can find out more.
School director Selina Budgen said: “The fun day is about trying to raise awareness that we’re there and letting people know a little bit about us and not be frightened of looking into alternative education for their children.”
The fun day on Saturday, April 16 will include lots of Easter-themed fun to get the kids hopping around such as eggs hunts, face painting and egg decorating.