Community Spotlight – Day 3/25: Maesgwyn Special School

Maesgwyn Special School is a school for children aged 11-19 with complex learning difficulties including autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), moderate to severe learning difficulties, physical difficulties and Behaviour, Emotional & Social difficulties (BESD).

Their vision is simple: ‘Bringing out the best’.

Maesgwyn state that pupils will receive the respect, encouragement and opportunity they need to prepare them for their adult lives. The key to their success is enabling pupils to develop a strong foundation of wellbeing with a balance between an academic and vocational ‘hands-on’ curriculum that promotes the life skills that enable pupils to mature into adult life. 

Maesgwyn strives to ‘bring out the best’ possible standards in pupils so that they become effective members of society; the type of adults you would be happy to have as your neighbours. 

The school’s vision statement is very important to the school; and they have identified pupil volunteering for the KS4 and post-16 learners as a vehicle to promote wellbeing, improve maturity and prepare pupils to become effective members of society. 

Consequently, following support from Interlink RCT, acts of pupil volunteering have been facilitated with a number of organisations, including:

  • Meadow Street Community Garden
  • Cynon Valley Organic Adventures
  • Arts Factory
  • Bryncynon Strategy (Feel Good Factory

To date, almost 25 pupils have been placed in positions where they can undertake acts of volunteering with these organisations. These placements have been highly positive for both the pupils and the organisations we volunteer for. Pupil engagement during volunteering is high while there have been noticeable impacts on their well-being.

The main challenges have been to source appropriate volunteering organisations, building links and facilitating provision. However, the support process have been excellent. Interlink have matched the school to appropriate organisations while the organisations we volunteer for have readily accepted our involvement. Implementation of the actual volunteering involves a number of logistic factors (e.g., dates/times; type of activities; transport to venue; do Maesgwyn staff need to attend? Parent/carer permissions; DBS checks etc); however, the benefits for the pupils are definitively worth the effort. 

The initial link with Interlink was initiated via a presentation made by Katelyn Burch via the RCT EET team (Education, employment and training). During this presentation, Katelyn introduced the support that Interlink could provide in terms of volunteering. Following this, Maesgwyn and Katelyn were able to form a highly effective partnership where Katelyn was able to identify opportunities for volunteering partnerships and training events.

Update meetings are held regularly to facilitate any further opportunities while direction to the Connect RCT website has widened opportunities for volunteering.

“Interlink RCT is a valuable provision that supports improvements in wellbeing across the community. Its created win-win scenarios: wins for the community and wins for our pupils because it matures them into the sort of adults you’d be happy to live next door to.” 


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