Brookside Pre-School in Ipswich proves it is a SENDsational employer by supporting Isla who has cerebral palsy

Isla Leighton-Scott with children at Brookside Pre-School in Ipswich

Isla Leighton-Scott with children at Brookside Pre-School in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Increasingly, employers from the region are reaching out to young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to help them get a start on the employment ladder.

Isla Leighton-Scott with Melissa O'Halloran at Brookside Pre-School in Ipswich

Isla Leighton-Scott with Melissa O'Halloran at Brookside Pre-School in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Brookside Pre-School in Ipswich is committed to providing high quality support and encouragement for all the children in its care, so that they grow into confident individuals and have the best start in life.

But it’s not only the children who are getting support in preparing for their future.

This SENDsational employer has also given essential work experience to Suffolk New College student Isla Leighton-Scott, so that she can gain a qualification in childcare and start her life-long wish to build a career in this area. Isla has had cerebral palsy since birth which means she has some limited movement in one side of her body. She started her work experience at the pre-school last September and has now gained enough hours to complete her Level 2 qualification.

Brookside’s deputy manager Melissa O’Halloran said: “Isla’s cerebral palsy has never been an issue.

Isla Leighton-Scott at Brookside Pre-School in Ipswich

Isla Leighton-Scott at Brookside Pre-School in Ipswich - Credit: Archant


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“Ever since she started with us, Isla has made a fantastic contribution to the experiences of the children and parents. She’s got great communication skills, has addressed all the tasks with energy and always has a smile on her face.”

Isla has been so successful in her placement that she now works above the hours required for her course helping out with after school clubs.

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“Childcare is harder than you think,” she said. “It’s not just about playing with children. There are activities to prepare to make sure they meet the learning outcomes for the children and lots of paperwork to complete too.

“I haven’t found my disability a problem at all – sometimes the children are curious and want to learn more, but they are always non-judgemental and accepting of me”.

Isla hasn’t decided yet what her next steps will be in her career but she’s certain it will be in childcare and is pleased that Brookside has given her the start she needed.

Melissa advises other employers to be open to giving young people a chance: “Don’t say no: give people with a disability or learning difficulty a chance and I’m sure they won’t let you down”.

Find out how your business can become SENDsational; contact sendsational@suffolk.gov.uk

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