Liverpool specialist school scoops national award

Abbot’s Lea School, a specialist school in Woolton has been honoured with a prestigious award by charity, nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs).

nasen, which supports and champions those working with, and for, children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and learning differences, announced this year’s winners in an online celebration.

Abbot’s Lea School received The nasen Award for 16-25 provision, sponsored by Ambitious about Autism, for its successful supported internship programme for students aged over 16.

The school launched the programme in 2018 as part of its dedicated approach in promoting equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

A supported internship is a type of study programme specifically aimed at young people who have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) and want to move into employment but need extra support to do so.

In its first year, the school successfully partnered with facilities management company, Amey, based at its Speke office in Liverpool. The second year of the programme saw new students secure exciting roles with Aloft Hotels, Cadent Gas, The Regenda Group, and the Speke Hall Garden and Estate, which is part of The National Trust.

During the 10-month programme, students worked four days a week during which they learnt employability skills, visited other employers and industry professionals and worked on building life skills and personal and social confidence. Additionally, they had one study day a week to continue developing their essential literacy and numeracy competencies.

The interns got to further develop their independence as they were tasked with travelling on public transport to and from work each day. Whilst it may seem like a small challenge to most, for some individuals with autism it can be a daunting and anxiety-raising task.

Headteacher of Abbot’s Lea School, Mrs Ania Hildrey, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be recognised for our work in helping students, who have autism and other learning differences. Our collective passion for ensuring that our students work towards meaningful future destinations has always been strong and now, more than ever, schools must work differently to meet the challenges of the labour market.

“This award is not only for all of my staff, who have worked tirelessly educating our students and securing the jobs for them, but also for our senior students, who have shown willingness and commitment to join the world of work. We are so pleased with their successes and so proud to have received this recognition.”

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive at Ambitious about Autism – the organisation that sponsored the nasen Award for 16-25 Provision – said: “Abbot’s Lea School is passionate about improving the outcomes for disabled young people and has placed this at the heart of its strategic development plan. It is of great pleasure to know that such an outstanding school is supporting children and young people with autism and associated complex communication, learning and social needs.”

Professor Adam Boddison, chief executive of nasen, added: “We are delighted that Abbot’s Lea School has been awarded the nasen Award for 16-25 provision and we want to recognise their incredible achievements. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted all children and young people’s education. This has acutely impacted children and young people with SEND, their families and the professionals that support them. We want to share our thanks to all staff at Abbot’s Lea School for their dedication. We are proud to spotlight their work and best practice to benefit the education and SEND sectors.”

Now in its fourth year, the nasen’s annual awards campaign usually culminate in a special banqueting ceremony in central London. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s announcement has taken place online via a video announcement and social media campaign #nasenwinners2020 @nasen_org.

For further information about the 2020 nasen Awards and to find out more about the winners, visit: and follow #nasenwinners2020

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