Our students celebrated World Autism Awareness Week recently with a special week of learning and performing around the theme of inspiration. Aimed at raising awareness of the condition, the week – held from Monday 1st to Sunday 7th April – gave students the opportunity to express their thoughts about living with autism and show that it was not stopping them from learning or performing.
On Friday 5th April, we held our first Student Showcase. This gave those at the school the opportunity to give a music or drama performance of their choice, a talk on a topic of interest to them, or share work that they have produced in school. The students that participated demonstrated the level of learning and confidence they are gaining, and it gave those that did not feel confident enough this time the encouragement to work towards taking part next time.
The week was made extra special by the arrival of rare samples of moon rocks and meteorites, which our students were able to handle and experiment with during astronomy themed science lessons. The rare samples were provided free of charge by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which provides educational packs in a bid to inspire young people to get involved in science and compliment classroom studies.
The pack included a 1.2 billion-year-old piece of Mars rock and a 4.3 billion-year-old nickel meteorite. Commenting on the experience of holding the ancient lunar and meteorite samples, Year 9 student James Andrews said: “It was really exciting to be able to hold the samples and I enjoyed weighing them and testing how magnetic they were. I love science and learning about astronomy. I can’t wait to see what comes to school next!”
Louisa Allison-Bergin, Head of School at LVS Oxford, said: “There is still a great deal of misinformation out there about young people with autism, and World Autism Awareness Week is an opportunity to help educate people on this. Young people with autism are all individuals with lots of skills and attributes, and employers are now realising that there is a massive pool of talent waiting to be tapped into. With reasonable adjustments, all of our students will be able to move on to college or into employment. It has been both inspirational and fitting to have moon samples in school during World Autism Awareness Week as we encourage all our students to aim for the moon.”
Looking ahead, we will soon be publishing the results of some research carried out by Louisa Allison-Bergin and Sarah Pagano. This focuses on students’ views on “How the labelling issue affects me”. 56 questionnaires were completed and a focus group was attended by 6 students from across the year groups.
Current research shows that only 15% of young people with an autism spectrum diagnosis are in sustained, full-time employment and we are passionate about changing that statistic.