Swanwick School is a specialist school in North Derbyshire for young people with Special Education Needs often from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Skiers Trust has supported Swanwick’s use of snowsports in providing developmental opportunities for their pupils for many years.
Young people attending the school have a wide range of social and educational needs, including moderate and severe learning needs, emotional and behavioural needs. Along with autism, an increasing number have specific physical and sensory needs or diagnoses such as ASD, MLD and SEMH. In a traditional coal mining area, many are from disadvantaged and single parent environments.
Swanwick view snowsports as an excellent vehicle for increasing self esteem and self-confidence, developing resilience and independence as well as increasing social skills and applying life skills.
Predominantly Swanwick have achieved this through an annual ski trip to Samoens and the Grand Massif resort close to Geneva. They use the same self-catered chalet each year and the same ski school which specialises in tutoring children with additional needs and with whom Swanwick have built a great working relationship. It is often the very first time any of the children have been abroad. Each year Swanwick believe that they see fantastic improvement in the life skills essential for successful lives outside of and after education.
Swanwick have also used a programme at their nearest indoor Snowzone at Castleford which means that far more of their children can take part than on the annual ski trip. Whilst not being a match for the benefits of a week-long ski trip, Swanwick believe that they see marked improvements in self-awareness and selfconfidence, taking of responsibility, leadership and teamwork life skills as a result of these programmes.
Swanwick’s year 11 pupils use skiing as part of their GCSE PE moderation and grades both of which are otherwise unheard of in SEN education.
For the Skiers Trust, this is proof that using snowsports to support young people with Special Educational Needs is hugely worthwhile. Our focus is to continue to expand in this aim, finding more opportunities, helping more organisations to grow, supporting more initiatives.