MP joins housewarming celebration at new specialist centre

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Havering College of Further and Higher Education (http://www.havering-college.ac.uk) is today celebrating the launch of The Bungalow – a specialist centre for students with severe learning disabilities, including those on the autistic spectrum.

The launch of The Bungalow at Havering College of Further and Higher Education

The launch of The Bungalow at Havering College of Further and Higher Education

This is a wonderful facility which will enable students with learning difficulties to develop their interpersonal skills, social skills and everyday life skills.

The college has worked in partnership with Havering Council to transform the former caretaker’s house at the Quarles Campus in Harold Hill into a state-of-the-art facility offering a unique educational experience.

Dame Angela Watkinson MP has welcomed The Bungalow which will allow more learners with complex needs to stay within Havering for their further education after leaving school at 16.

Students who would not immediately cope with mainstream college life will benefit from being welcomed into a home-from-home environment where they will have life-style lessons preparing them for the transition into college.

Cutting the ribbon to open the £420,000 centre, Angela Watkinson, MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, said: “This is a wonderful facility which will enable students with learning difficulties to develop their interpersonal skills, social skills and everyday life skills to prepare them for adulthood and the progression onto a Foundation course at the college.”

The Bungalow features a sensory room with fibre optics and bubble tubes. There is a twin bedroom for occasional overnight stays to increase the students’ independence skills and help them prepare for independent living. The garden has specialised fitness apparatus and raised flower beds for gardening activities.

Havering College principal Maria Thompson said: “Havering Council has put a great deal of funding into this initiative. It is a really good example of what partnership and collaboration can bring about for the positive benefit of students and the community at large. We are very proud of our existing provision. Our work with Foundation Skills was graded as Grade One - Outstanding - by Ofsted. We see The Bungalow as a very positive addition to that work.”

Guests included former Mayor of Havering Cllr Melvin Wallace who chose The Bungalow project as one of his charities during his term of office.

Cllr Wallace joined representatives from a range of parent groups and support services on a tour of the facility, meeting staff and chatting to students.

Amanda Heary, a volunteer co-ordinator with PACT, whose 17-year-old daughter now attends The Bungalow, said: “I feel very fortunate that my daughter has a place here. Having left school, I don’t know what she would do if she wasn’t here. She was definitely not ready to make the step straight into college but her transition into The Bungalow is personalised and it is going really well.”

Havering Council Cabinet Member for Children and Learning, Cllr Paul Rochford added: “The opening of the Bungalow at Havering College provides a first rate facility and shows once more what can be achieved when the London Borough Havering works in close partnership with the College.”

For further information on The Bungalow email smills(at)havering-college(dot)ac(dot)uk.

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