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We invited a parent to our information sharing session for our new September 2016 Intake students. We don’t give them any brief other than ‘share your experiences – good or not so good - of your child’s transition into Walton Hall’. So we never know until the day what will be shared. A parent agreed to attend this year and share her experiences with our new parents……………………….

I felt relief that I had found an establishment that my son could go to for the next 7 or 8 years but I felt very much that it was just to be a place to go to between the hours of 9 and 3 and that nothing much would change.

How wrong I was. My son is now a teenager who has been nurtured and cared for whilst his talents and abilities have been guided and encouraged to grow. His independent living skills in particular have been developed.

The Staff at Walton Hall have an amazing ability whilst caring deeply for the children to unlock their dreams and aspirations. I have watched concerts that include every child in the school and looked on in amazement as young people some of them cannot look another person in the eye but have got up on stage and sung their hearts out.

We were able to access Residence after about a year, initially my son stayed one evening a week until 8.00 pm This gave him opportunities to access after school activities and his first trip to the cinema was during one of these evenings as he had always refused to come with us, but was very happy to go with his friends on the minibus. After another 6 months or so my son was judged capable of staying for one night a week. These Wednesday night sleepovers have had a huge impact. It is certainly not a glorified babysitting service it is a wonderful test to enhance and develop independence. Aims and targets are agreed between home and school, the boundaries are clearly defined and the opportunities seem endless.

At home he now lays and clears the table; he takes himself off for a shower, dries and dresses himself. He can now make his bed and is a dab hand at changing pillowcases. We are now working on the duvet cover!

On a Thursday evening when my son goes for his weekly swimming lesson, I drop him off outside the baths. He goes in gets himself changed and puts his stuff in the locker and goes and sits on the side of the pool and waits for his lesson to start all by himself. Afterwards he takes himself off, showers, dries and dresses and then meets me back outside in the car park.

Walton Hall has helped my son enormously to develop these independent living skills which he can continue to build on. But Walton Hall has also given me confidence to believe that there really is light at the end of the tunnel and the hope of a really positive future for him. By helping to unlock my son’s potential, the school has given me self-belief to unlock even more.

Just one more anecdote! At my son’s 13th birthday some 3 months ago he invited his classmates to the bowling alley in Stafford to celebrate. Some of the parents stayed and some nipped off for a couple of hours. The children were amazing.   Beautifully behaved, taking turns and cheering each other on. At the end staff were full of praise and admiration for the children and the way they conducted themselves. When they asked we were very proud to say that they all went to Walton Hall Academy.

I now realise how fortunate we were to have got a place here. Staff are phenomenal the grounds are beautiful with plenty of space to play and run around in. There are plans afoot for more development like the garden centre and café – Walton Hall Academy is definitely the place to be.

I hope you all have such positive experiences and that your children are as happy as my son"

Parent,   July 2016

There was not a dry eye in the room! This was spoken with such passion and emotion. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with everyone.

Pauline Carmichael, Walton Hall Academy

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