Aim to aid pupils’ transition

Practice makes perfect . . . Sara Cohen School pupil Tayne McLaren (21) practises his barista skills on Monday. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Sara Cohen School’s new programme will help pupils transition to living independently.

The programme is for more abled 18 to 21-year-old pupils at the school, which provides support for special learning needs.

School principal Matthew Tofia said the school already ran a transition programme, but this new one would be much better.

“We’ve see it done in a number of other centres and felt that there was a gap here in Dunedin.”

The programme would cover a range of different domains, including wellbeing, academic abilities, emotional regulation, flatting skills and work experience.

Ten pupils would be involved, aided by two full-time teachers and three or four support staff.

It would replicate a flatting situation, where pupils would be taught how to cook, serve and be served, as well as make their beds and do their own washing.

“They’ll be focusing on that sort of living flat-type environment.”

Leisure and recreational pursuits would also be encouraged, and a personal trainer would create a fitness plan for each pupil and set goals.

“So they will be able to go into a gym, look at the gym equipment they have there [and] know how to use it.”

Pupils would be given cellphones to help while they were using public transport.

The other big focus for the group would be on employment.

“Essentially, it’s going to be work experience and then it’s going to be leading into, hopefully, work placements.

“The job’s not about making money, it’s about participating in society and life.”

Funded by the school board and the Otago Community Trust, the programme came at no cost to pupils or their families.

The money from the trust and school board was seed money to start the long-term programme, “which will become part of what we do here at Sara Cohen”.