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From The Principal…

posted 10 Feb 2015, 02:09 by James Dorey   [ updated 10 Feb 2015, 02:10 ]

The Early Years Department has been given an exciting opportunity to participate in an international research study; that could provide an influential contribution to autistic intervention. The TIME-A international research project studies the effectiveness of music therapy with children with autism spectrum disorders. Anglia Ruskin University and Imperial College London are carrying out trials in the UK with the assistance of the National Institute for Health Research, and are recruiting participants in London and the East of England.

Previous research has suggested that Music Therapy may have a positive effect on social interaction and communication among children with autism spectrum disorders. This project aims to study this effect; the selected participants will be involved in this study for a duration of 12 months, with the therapy lasting for five months of this. We are delighted that Columbus has been given this opportunity to be involved and for many of our young children to benefit from this therapy intervention. I will keep you updated of the findings of the research in due course.

The work of the Columbus team continues to generate great interest locally and further afield. The Lord and Lady Mayor will be visiting Columbus to meet with the children and young people and to celebrate with us a day of “Achievement and Equality”. I am looking forward to highlighting the amazing things that our young people achieve every day and stressing to the Mayor and Mayoress, the need for our young people to be able to access the same high quality support and learning and social experiences as their peers from the mainstream setting.

I am very pleased to have been invited to attend a reception at the House of Commons on the 11th February to talk with representatives from Inspiring Futures, The Rt. Hon. Michael Gove M.P., Mr Barry Sheerman M.P., Dr Joseph Spence, Master of Dulwich College, and Adele Blakebrough, co-founder and CEO of Social Business Trust. For me, the importance of the event is championing the rights and achievements of our young people as they leave the education years and enter adulthood. I will be talking about the opportunities that are afforded our young people and how partnerships with groups like Inspiring Futures can help us to make changes to the life outcomes and choices available to our young people post 19.

It has been wonderful to welcome a group of parents/carers who have recently signed up to help me to create a Parent Consultation Committee at Columbus. The group met on 20th January to begin to design the agenda for their meetings, to make requests for information on key initiatives within the academy and to also request attendance of key personnel at future meetings. I am delighted that so many parents (17 so far) have shown interest and are able to give their time to help us to improve what we do for the young people and their families. The next meeting will take place on the 23rd March and we will keep you informed of the outcome of the meetings and the plans to improve the services we offer to families.  

Councillor John Galley, Deputy Leader of Chelmsford City Council, recently came to visit Columbus and was very impressed by the wonderful work the children, young people and support staff undertake each and every day. He has been supporting me to set up a “pop up shop” in Chelmsford town centre that I hope will be run by young people from the FE Department from the Summer Term. It will be wonderful to begin to create our own work experience opportunities and enable our youngsters to have the chance to engage and indeed lead in the development of their own life experiences. We will keep you updated of how this new project develops.

A presentation for Parents/Carers on 'Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and The Local Offer'  has been arranged to take place on 23rd April to which all parents/carers are invited. This event will enable families to learn a little more about how the transfer of a child’s Statement onto the new plan will take place, what this means and how support interventions from social care, health and education can be secured through the transfer process. These sessions will be delivered by professionals from Social Care, Interact (Independent Support Essex), Columbus and the Information, Advice and Guidance Team (formerly known as the Transitions Pathway Service). 

Ginny Bellard.