Helping to engage students with their community at Victoria Education Centre
Paula Allcroft started working at special needs school Victoria Education Centre in 2008 and has a passion for working with disabled young people. As part of the Speech and Language team, she works with students using ‘Eyegaze’ – an innovative eye-operated technology that helps disabled people communicate with the world.
Victoria Education Centre is Livability’s award-winning school in Poole, Dorset, for young disabled people. Its students are always at the front of Paula’s mind and her support to them extends beyond her working hours.
Paula has developed special relationships with students at Victoria and has been able to regularly bring the community and the school together. She has many interests and hobbies that she actively shares by bringing them into the school, but also taking the children out into the community.
She has arranged for students to join a 1,000-strong motorcycle convoy through the New Forest in a school bus. Students have met and held her pet snakes and other animals including iguanas and birds of prey.
“I don’t believe I do anything that special, all I do is mix work with my hobbies”, says Paula. “I bring my friends and interests into the school and take the students to see my friends and interests out of school. I love the school and what I do. Even my friends want to come back time and time again after a visit to Victoria.”
Sue Stratis, a colleague at Victoria Education Centre says: “Paula gives so much to the young people at Victoria. If we need anyone to help at a fundraising event or have some bright ideas we always make sure we ask her.”
Paula now has plans to share her passion for cars, having represented Victoria in a number of car shows. This year she will be bringing the cars to Victoria by organising its very own car festival, which will feature a range of vintage and customised cars including World War 2 vehicles and sports cars.
Paula received an award from The Princess Royal at an annual ceremony celebrating in February and that recognised the fantastic work of staff, supporters and friends from around the Livability community. You can read about it here.