Sponsorship of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup tie against Torquay United has been purchased by an anonymous supporter and donated to Farnham’s Abbey Special Needs School.
The school is one of just seven Local Authority Special Schools in Surrey and has over 100 students aged 11-16 who have learning and other needs, including autistic spectrum disorders, speech, language and communication difficulties and, in some cases, other challenges such as physical disability, hearing or visual impairment.
The students have an average reading age of less than eight years but work towards nationally-accredited qualifications including, in some cases, GCSEs, and most go on to further education at local colleges. The Abbey prides itself on the school’s life skills training, the wealth of opportunities offered to students both on and off-site, and widespread use of ICT across the curriculum.
The excellence of the provision has been endorsed by three successive “Outstanding” OFSTED inspections, Investors in Careers, The Specialism Quality Mark and Partnership with Parents, among others. Furthermore, some of our students have had success at national level competing against their peers from mainstream schools in fields at which they excel such as media and the visual arts.
Achieving these high standards for the students requires not only an extremely professional and dedicated staff, but also infrastructure and resources beyond those which can be realised using the school budget alone. The Abbey is heavily reliant upon partners in the voluntary and charitable sectors who support the school, including the Children with Special Needs Foundation and Aldershot Town Football Club.
Among other things, Abbey School students and their families are able to enjoy watching Aldershot Town Football Club play in the Vanarama National League because CWSNF have funded 20 subsidised tickets for parents and carers to take their sons and daughters to experience the excitement of a live game from the specially-commissioned Community Stand at the EBB Stadium.
This is a really family-oriented environment, which is especially important for vulnerable young people with learning, social communication and physical difficulties, as one of the mums who took her son last season explained: “James and I had our first experience of watching football at Aldershot recently thanks to free tickets offered by the school. We had a great time, the Community Stand is set away from the main stand and there is plenty of space to move around. We were close to the food and drink stand so enjoyed chips and hot chocolate whilst we watched the match. Both James and I got quite involved and very excited when Aldershot scored. Aldershot even won!! Afun couple of hours and we will definitely be going again.”
CWSNF, its patrons and donors, sponsor the annual Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 football tournaments for up to half-a-dozen local special schools which are hosted at The Abbey – last year some of the young Shots fans in the competing teams were absolutely thrilled that some of the team came along to cheer them on, give them some tips, autographs and club memorabilia.