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The Rt. Hon the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Annual Visit to Treloar’s

An important, not to be missed, fixture on the Master’s calendar is the visit to Treloar’s School at Alton in Hampshire.  About 180 young people, aged from 4 to 25, with physical disabilities and complex clinical needs, live and learn as independently as possible and achieve their ambitions.  With around 800 staff, 24-hour nursing care, all forms of therapy, independence training and education, everyone focuses on each student’s abilities rather than disabilities. It was founded in 1908 by the Lord Mayor of the City of London Sir William Purdie Treloar.

The Masters of 35 Livery Companies, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress and Sheriff and Consort were given a warm welcome by the staff and students.  We were then split into small groups for a tour of the school.  Eileen and I were very fortunate to have a student, Archie, as our guide who wanted to show us everything.  The one challenge was to keep up with him as he sped off in his chair to the house he shares with other students.  After introductions to the house staff we saw his amazingly well-equipped room and the facilities including the laundry where they washed their own clothes.  We also visited the training kitchen and the social club, which unfortunately was not open for entertaining guests.  We spent so long being shown round that we missed the school performance but we were especially privileged to have a personal insight from a pupil.

In presentations from the staff and students we heard about the pressure for places which can cost between £400k and £800k each year.  Although they receive a grant from central government most of the costs fall to the relevant local authority.  The provision of special needs is a statutory responsibility on local authorities but due to financial pressures they are increasingly resistant to paying for students to attend Treloar’s. School staff spend a substantial amount of time in court pursuing cases which may take up to eight years to resolve – time the young people may not have.

The school is therefore seeking more support from the Livery Companies than ever before. Current appeals include funding for replacement hoists and a new electric bus.

It was an incredibly amazing day, full of opportunity and hope, where we saw, as Ofsted stated, a culture of high aspirations and endless compassion.

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