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Residents at Summergil House Tell Inspectors Their Home is ‘The Best’

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Residents at Orbis Summergil House ‘have a voice’ and ‘are supported to be as healthy as they can be and to achieve to their potential’ the latest Care Inspectorate Wales inspection has found.

Summergil also won praise for its ‘person-centred approach’ and for making use of the site’s extensive grounds to carry out stimulating activities, like gardening, bush-craft and caring for chickens and rabbits, to support the ‘learning, development and physical health’ of its residents.

Matt Dobbs, Registered Manager at Summergil, said: “We have a collective commitment to ensuring all of those within our care feel supported, and empowered to express themselves as individuals, and we are continually striving to provide exemplary levels of care for our young people.”

“To have this hard work and dedication formally recognised by Care Inspectorate Wales is an absolute delight to the team here at Summergil House.”

Inspectors also remarked that ‘pictures showed that young people had enjoyed their Halloween and Christmas celebrations, and trips out to various theme parks and play centres’ and that ‘a young person we spoke to told us that their home was “the best”’.

CIW observed that ‘staff were happy in their work’ and that new staff spoke positively about their inductions as well as a buddy scheme where they are matched with more experienced staff for mentoring purposes too.

Mike Currier, CEO at Orbis Education and Care, said: “This report from Care Inspectorate Wales is testament to the hard work and dedication of our colleagues at Summergil House, who provide a warm, caring and empowering environment where our children learn to live as independently as possible.”

Ty Coryton is a ‘caring and inclusive school’, says Estyn report

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The latest annual Estyn monitoring inspection at Orbis Ty Coryton shows pupils are supported to form ‘trusting relationships with staff’ and ‘respond positively to the caring and inclusive ethos of the school’.

Ty Coryton was also praised for ‘strongly’ promoting values of ‘tolerance and respect’, and for supporting its pupils in developing ‘valuable independence skills’ effectively too.

Kelly Price, Head of Education at Ty Coryton, was also commended for promoting stability within the school as a leader who is ‘passionate for staff to develop their skills’.

Kelly said: “Effective schooling of our children relies not just on the fantastic education staff we have, but also the dedication and commitment of our care, clinical, administrative, maintenance and other colleagues too.

“To have our hard work and dedication formally recognised by Estyn confirms that we are doing well to care and educate those we are here to support. It is as an absolute delight to the team here at Ty Coryton.”

The report also identified a culture where ‘leaders know the school very well’ and where the board of governors is ‘fully involved’ in the school’s self-evaluation process as a whole.

Multi-disciplinary working was also deemed to be ‘a significant strength of the school’ and ‘highly effective in meeting the needs of pupils’, with many engaging ‘consistently well’ in their learning and respond ‘enthusiastically’ as a result.

Mike Currier, CEO at Orbis Education and Care, said: “We’re truly thrilled that the team’s efforts to create a warm, welcoming and above all supportive environment for young people have been formally recognised. We are very proud of our team at Ty Coryton and congratulate them on their success.”

Summergil pupil finds his ‘hoppy’ place as award-winning rabbit breeder

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One of our pupils has found his ‘hoppy’ place as an award-winning rabbit breeder attending animal shows across the UK.

Nathan regularly takes his beloved pets to some of the largest animal shows in the UK and has even been made an honorary Welsh ‘fancier’ – a breeder of high standards.

His new-found status contrasts with his early days as a quiet pupil at Summergil House. Now Nathan also has plans to qualify as a mechanic, having taken up regular work experience at a nearby garage as a result of the confidence breeding rabbits has given him too.

Nathan’s mum, Sam Mansell, said: “He really enjoys the social side of the shows, which have given him a confidence that he has taken into other areas of his life and will, all being well, take into the future workplace too. We couldn’t be prouder of him and the progress he is making as a result.”

Nathan’s involvement in the shows he attends now extends to stewarding, displays and award duties, and has seen him claim rosettes at The Royal Welsh Show, Three Counties Show, Swindon Show and the largest small animal show in the country at Doncaster, to name a few.

Orbis staff at Summergil House have also seen a quiet and introverted student grow into a confident young man since he took up the hobby.

Rachel Hackling, Head of Education at Summergil House, said: “He is a shining example of how anyone can make remarkable progress regardless of what their challenges may be. We are all super proud to count Nathan as one of our own here at Summergil House and can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”

Matt Dobbs appointed to oversee Orbis services at Summergil House

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Orbis Education and Care has appointed Matt Dobbs as the new Registered Manager of Summergil House near Presteigne.

The former Social Services Children’s Mentor will build on a long-standing career in the field as he moves from a long-term role at Orbis’ sister site in Powys, Ty Bronllys, to manage Summergil.

Matt brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked across several behavioural and clinical positions for Orbis since he was first appointed to the company as a support worker a decade ago.

Since then he has accrued a breadth of expertise to support him in further strengthening the residential care and educational services on offer to learners aged 8-19 at Summergil House.

Matt, 31, said: “Staying relatable to the wider team at Summergil, in order to maintain a setting which is a happy and enjoyable place to live and work will be a major focus for me in this new role, as will maintaining our relationship with the surrounding community.

“Raising awareness and the presence of the children and young people within Orbis’ care, and supporting them to build their confidence, self-esteem and validity in feeling part of the local community is something I am also looking forward to building on further across the two sites.”

Matt added: “Orbis has taught me that with the right approach and positivity anything is achievable. I love being part of a company that has such a fantastic ethos towards the well-being of young people and can’t wait to see what else is possible in moving out of the clinical team into this management role.”

 

Caring is a career for Nashville native Bob Martin – now manager at Dan Y Coed

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Making a positive difference to the lives of others is what attracted Bob Martin to a job with Orbis Education and Care after relocating to South Wales from the USA in 2011. Three promotions later, he is now running Orbis Dan Y Coed.

Bob is the residential manager at Orbis’ newly opened specialist school and residential unit, which continues to welcome new learners in following a multi-million refurbishment project to create a state-of-the art care and education facility.

The school at Dan y Coed has been open since late 2017 and can educate up to 30 children. Now the residential part can house up to 20 young people and will require 120 staff to run it at full capacity.

Bob says: “I had not long moved to the UK when I saw the job with Orbis and felt I could make a positive difference in the lives of young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), so I applied to become a support worker and the rest, as they say, is history.

“After three years in the role I was promoted to team leader and then joined the clinical team as a behavioural specialist working across several Orbis sites. This, coupled with previous work experience at a similar facility back in Nashville, led me to where I am now. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Bob added: “My favourite part of all my roles within Orbis has been seeing a young person who may have been struggling with an area in their lives make remarkable progress and the fact that I helped to make that happen – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”

 

Orbis Education and Care Shortlisted for Leading Wales Award

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Orbis Education and Care has been shortlisted for a 2019 Leading Wales Award. We are up for an ‘Inspiring Great Leadership: Organisational Award’ and couldn’t be more thrilled about it!

Members of our senior management team based at our headquarters in Cardiff will attend a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in the city centre later this month to find out who’s won.

Mike Currier, CEO of Orbis Education and Care, said: “As a fast growing, sector leading provider of specialist services for children and adults with complex needs associated with autism, our leadership capability is pivotal to our overall success.

“The team here at Orbis works extremely hard to inspire and motivate our teams, and ensure everyone is working together towards a shared goal.”

“I’m absolutely delighted this hard work and dedication to the cause has been formally recognised by the Leading Wales Awards, and our place on this year’s shortlist,” Mike added.

“Through ongoing investment in leadership development, we remain well equipped to cultivate future leadership succession which will in turn enable us to grow and continue to provide first class care to the individuals we support.”

Footballing legend helps Dan Y Coed students improve their health and wellbeing

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Our learners in Swansea took a shot at improving their health and wellbeing during a visit from footballing legend Lee Trundle.

The former striker attended a wellbeing event with the goal of helping to promote alternative coping strategies among students at Dan Y Coed.

Learners enjoyed a kick about with the Swansea City Ambassador, as well as a tai chi session and art therapy class.

Gemma Pullen, Assistant Behaviour Specialist at Dan Y Coed, said: “As exercise is a crucial part of wellbeing, and we have a couple of budding football players here who are huge Swansea City fans, we were really grateful to Lee for coming to the event, where the students thoroughly enjoyed kicking the ball around with him.

“We also use alternative therapies such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, complimentary therapy and art to teach our students and their families strategies to calm the mind and body which can also be used as distraction techniques when they may feel upset or anxious.”

Dan y Coed officially opened as a residential facility this summer following a multi-million-pound refurbishment project to turn the former outdoor pursuits centre into a state-of-the-art living space for up to 20 children.

Dan y Coed school and residential home officially opened by Swansea City Ambassadors

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Our Dan y Coed site has been officially opened by Swansea City Ambassadors Leon Britton and Lee Trundle.

The state-of-the-art residential facility has now been fully registered and welcomed parents, social workers and local authority commissioners to see the new multi-million-pound building.

Located in West Cross, Swansea, the school at Dan y Coed has been open since late 2017 and can educate up to 30 children.

The residential part of Dan y Coed was a former outdoor pursuits and training centre before Orbis purchased the building from Swansea Council. At full capacity, the new service will house up to 20 young people and employ around 120 staff.

Mike Currier, CEO of Orbis Education and Care, said: “At Orbis, we work hard to ensure that every child in our care is supported to enjoy their childhood in a safe environment, progressing towards a full, independent and active adult life, whatever the extent to their complex needs. We are proud to be able to provide our young people with outstanding facilities that meet those needs.”

“The position of the school and residential home is amazing. It is just a stone’s throw from the local beaches, as well as being just a short drive from Swansea itself. We are very proud of Dan y Coed and look forward to settling our first residents in very soon.”

 

Two new appointments for Orbis Education and Care

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Orbis has strengthened its senior management team with the appointment of its first ever Chief Operating Officer, alongside a new HR Director.

Rob McKay and Linda Bridge join us as COO and HR Director respectively in a continuing period of rapid growth for the company.

Rob brings considerable experience from a range of senior care-based and educational roles to Orbis Education and Care, and holds the task of consolidating operations across a rapidly expanding portfolio of sites now held by the company in both England and Wales.

Linda will meanwhile draw on more than a decade of experience working across high-end legal and retail organisations to further promote the development of a culture where everyone is supported to fulfil their true potential, as the Orbis headcount also continues to grow.

CEO of Orbis Education and Care, Mike Currier, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Rob and Linda at what is an extremely exciting time for our company. The addition of Rob’s role as incoming Chief Operating Officer will provide key organisational support, while Linda’s acumen for all things HR will support the buy-in required to achieve these aims.”

“Each position has a pivotal role to play in the ongoing success of our organisation and we couldn’t be more delighted to have both roles filled by individuals not only with the professional expertise we need to succeed, but also with the passion and empathy required of all those working within the Orbis family as a whole.”

Marking World Autism Awareness Week – the Welsh way

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Orbis has been celebrating World Autism Awareness Week the Welsh way with a visit from Valleys artist Nathan Wyburn – and a special appearance from Tom-ato Jones.

Learners created a portrait of the legendary Welsh singer out of tomato sauce during a one-off creative session with the celebrated portrait artist at our Cardiff headquarters.

Students from Ty Coryton, Ty Bronllys, Summergil House and Dan y Coed joined forces during a special visit arranged by the Occupational Therapy team.

Nathan is a Fine Art graduate specialising in creating iconic celebrity portraits and ‘pop culture’ imagery with non-traditional mediums including Marmite, sugar, chocolate, baked beans and more.

The Ebbw Vale artist rose to prominence on Britain’s Got Talent with his toast-based portrait of judge Michael McIntyre, and has since won praise from Good Morning America, Blue Peter, The Guardian and more.

Lucy Pottinger, Director of Education at Orbis, said: “As well as meeting Nathan, our learners enjoyed a structured and fun learning activity, practiced their working together skills and were able to put into practice the things they had learned.

“At the heart of this activity also lies the point that art is one of the things in life which really is accessible for all – which is in turn an important part of World Autism Awareness Week.”

“We are hugely grateful to Nathan for taking time out of his busy schedule to spend time with our learners and support them in exploring their creative side, whilst having great fun at the same time.”

Orbis Abbey Rose care and residential home opens in Gloucestershire

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Orbis Abbey Rose, our first site in England, is now open.

The Tewkesbury site welcomed in its first visitors at a special event attended by local residents, healthcare professionals and dignitaries including the Mayor of Tewskesbury Borough.

Abbey Rose will now educate and home 30 children who have complex needs associated with autism and is set to create 300 jobs in total when full, as a result.

Situated on a 17-acre site and formerly known as Southwick Park, the school and residential home has been given new life after it closed under the Cambian Group in April 2018.

Opened by its former owners in 2013 to house 40 children, Orbis Education and Care has remodelled the residential part of the school to accommodate 30 children.

Mike Currier, CEO at Orbis Education and Care, said: “Orbis Abbey Rose has some wonderful facilities and even a battlefield from the War of the Roses within its gardens – hence the name Abbey Rose – as well as extensive grounds and a sports hall, among other things.

“We are looking forward to bringing all that we’ve learned in Wales to England for the benefit of families and employees here in Gloucestershire, and are excited to finally be inviting new residents, students and staff alike in to enjoy this wonderful facility too.”

A random act of kindness

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The team at Orbis Education and Care would like to send a heart-felt THANK YOU to a member of the public for their kind gesture recently. Sometimes something amazing happens that just needs to be shared:

 

Recently, Orbis residents Emma and Demi from Summergil House went on an outing to the local Small Breeds Farm and on to Pizza Hut for a meal. But when they attempted to pay for their food, their support staff were told by the Pizza Hut team that the bill had already been settled.

 

It turned out that a member of public, who happened to be out with their family at the same restaurant, were so happy that the pair were out in the community and having an amazing time that they felt the need to pay the bill without saying anything to our staff, and to this day they remain anonymous.

 

This is an amazing tale of generosity and kindness, and also a fantastic testimony to what the Orbis team do on a daily basis. We only hope that the generous soul reads this and sees our great big thanks, from everyone at Orbis.

 

THANK YOU!

Why employing people with autism can help a small business

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Our very own Rebecca James, head of academy living here at Orbis Education and Care, has spoken to smallbusiness.co.uk about how employing someone with autism can help small businesses!

Did you know that 700 000 people in the UK are autistic? And according to statistics from the National Autistic Society, only 16 per cent of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment?

 

Helping autistic people get into work

Many autistic people have skills that are highly sought after in the workplace. They are often experts in specific topics, as they are passionate about subjects that interest them. They are methodical, brilliant researchers, pay considerable attention to detail and are highly productive. So, why aren’t more autistic people in paid employment?

It may be that employers lack awareness about what autistic people can offer. Or they may not have the right support network in place for autistic employees. It’s something Orbis is working hard to address.

Read the full story from Ben Lobel at www.smallbusiness.co.uk 

Simon Drinkwater joins Orbis as HR Director

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Simon Drinkwater has joined Orbis Education and Care as our new HR Director! Simon brings considerable experience from a range of senior HR roles, across healthcare and financial services most recently, and has been brought in to head up a forward thinking people and cultural agenda in support of the organisation’s continuing growth.

2017 was a year of considerable growth for us here at Orbis – with the opening of three new schools and, coupled with the acquisition of Bangeston Autism Care Services, more than 200 new staff were recruited into the business.


Here’s what CEO Mike Currier had to say:

“We are thrilled to welcome Simon to the Orbis family. Simon has spent a number of years in healthcare and has a solid understanding of the challenges we face in our day to day roles.

“The past year has been a massive time of growth for the business and Simon has joined us at a pivotal time of development and evolution.”

Simon_Drinkwater_Orbis_Education_HR

On joining us at Orbis, Simon said: “It’s great to be back in the care sector at a really exciting time and with such an ambitious organisation and leadership team. Orbis is opening new facilities in and around Wales and I am looking forward to  working with my colleagues build upon the great foundations in place, to recruit and retain the best people in Wales to support the children and adults in our care, whilst making Orbis an even better place to work and develop a career.”

Welcome aboard Simon!

Children from Brecon clean up at Wildlife Trust

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Pupils from Brecon’s  Ty Bronllys and Summergil House have been rolling up their sleeves and helping with litter picking at Pwll y Wrach as part of their Eco School project.

Children from the schools have been working with volunteers at Brecnock Wildlife Trust to clear moss and generally clean up the Pwll y Wrach nature reserve, which is very popular with walkers and families.


Head of Education at Summergil House, Rachel Hackling, said: “We got in touch with the team at Brecnock Wildlife Trust earlier this year to see if we could work around the Trust area to help us achieve our bronze and Silver Eco  school status, where we help the wider community with environmental issues.
“It is very important that our children get to experience what it is like to work in the real world, as many of them have challenging behaviour and learning difficulties and so we jumped at the chance for them to learn new skills on the job.”
Rachel added: “The conservation officers agreed that we could help and we got cracking straight away. It has been great for the children and they have already received compliments on how much nicer the area around Pwll y Wrach is since we started working there.”


“Working in real life situations really helps the children to interact with the outside world and you can see them brim with confidence as they are given compliments on their work. It is great to see.”
Stephanie Coates, conservation officer at Brecnock Wildlife Trust, said: “We have worked closely with Rachel at Summergil House to find an activity which would be suitable for the children and it was great to see them all mucking in and cleaning up a very popular area.
“As an organisation we are resource poor, so it was great when Rachel approached us to help. The children have been cleaning interpretation panels as well as picking up litter and generally clearing up. Pwll y Wrach is a popular area – but with more people comes more litter and so having Ty Bronllys and Summergil House along to help us has been great.”
As well as maintaining the good work they have already carried out at Pwll y Wrach, the children will be moving on to help screw in Waymarker discs on trails in the coming weeks!

Dan y Coed now open!

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Dan y Coed, a new specialist school for children and young people is officially opening its doors this week in the West Cross area of Swansea.

The former outdoor-pursuits centre will see the fully redesigned state-of-the-art school open its doors to up to 20 pupils. The third and final phase of the site’s development will see a residential area open up to 20 children who require on-site overnight care and support.

The school currently offers places for day pupils from the age of five, whilst residential placements will be available for children aged between eight and nineteen. Children will be able to attend Dan y Coed daily for education only or as a resident during term time or for 52 weeks of the year.

We hope to have the school and its residential arm fully open by Autumn 2018.

Here’s what Orbis CEO Mike Currier had to say:

“We are thrilled to see the doors at Dan y Coed opening and welcoming children into the school. Our model of education is sector-leading as children learn from a flexible curriculum which is tailored to their individual needs as well as their interests and aspirations. Our 40-week academic year with just two-week’s break in the Summer means that our year is structured entirely for children who appreciated structure and routine.”

As well as education and care, Dan y Coed will offer a wide range of in-house clinical services from Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy to Positive Behavioural Support and psychology. Our aim is to get children engaged in education so they can make a positive and active contribution to the school and the local community.

Ty Seren opens its doors in Swansea

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Our latest residential service for adults, Ty Seren, has opened in Gowerton, Swansea. Located just a few miles from both Swansea and Llanelli, Ty Seren comprises four self-contained sole occupancy flats and a four-bed home.

It can accommodate up to eight adults with a range of complex needs, ensuring they are offered a living environment that works for them.


As with all of our services, Ty Seren offers an award-winning model that combines care, therapeutic support and continuous learning. Skills are learned, practiced and reinforced at all times, with person-centred planning designed to keep adults active, engaged and working towards their greater independence.

We pride ourselves on giving students and residents as much independence as possible as well as helping them gain skills and accreditations along the way, so they can make a positive and active contribution to their local community.


The residents at Ty Seren can also access the dedicated work and life-skills day service called The Orb. The Orb provides a range of real-life working environments where young people and adults with autism can gain hands-on experience in the world of work on a supported basis. It is a shop, a cafe, an office, a laundry and a kitchen.

It offers continuous learning, a transitional stepping-stone for school leavers, a source of valuable experience for those who have already left school and an alternative to a residential specialist college placement.

A new home opens in West Aberthaw

We’re opening a new state-of-the-art residential home for adults in West Aberthaw, Vale of Glamorgan!

The 12-bed service offers a transition for adults who have left full time education, as well as those who are learning to live more independently. The facility is arranged across a series of grade II listed stone barns and is a flagship service for us here at Orbis.


Here’s what our CEO Mike Currier had to say:

“Ty Carreg is a wonderful addition to our adult services. We saw the site and knew we had to have it, as it provides a beautiful environment and home. It is custom designed for the needs of its residents and staff to ensure they get the best experience whilst living and developing at Ty Carreg.

“We also invite our adult residents to access The Orb in Porth, Rhondda, which is a shop, café, kitchen, office and a laundry on the town’s high street. The Orb provides a range of real-life working environments for continuous learning, a transitional stepping-stone for school leavers, a source of valuable experience for those who have already left school and an alternative to a residential specialist college placement.”

 

Orbis interior

 

Ty Carreg was developed by X-Stream Developments, which is owned by former All Black and Cardiff Blues captain Xavier Rush.

Xavier said: “Working with Orbis has been a unique experience, with every room on site custom made for the needs of its residents. Breathing life back into these beautiful old buildings has been very rewarding!”

Find out more about Ty Carreg here.

Roald Dahl Day

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Tuesday 13th Sept is Roald Dahl Day and to celebrate what would have been the great writer’s 100th birthday, BBC 1 Wales is broadcasting an episode of Great Welsh Writers about his childhood where he grew up in Cardiff.

The eagle-eyed among you may recognise some of Ty Coryton’s nooks and crannies in this special programme, as the BBC production team came along to film some of the original architectural features in order to re-create the home that Roald Dahl grew up in. Keep your eyes peeled at 10:40pm on BBC One Wales on Tues 13th September!

Click the image for a BBC programme description.

Interview with Jason Mohammed

Following recent news in which a family was asked to leave a North Wales pub for bringing pre-prepared food for their 4-year old autistic son, Rachel Hackling was invited to comment in a live radio interview with the family.

Click to listen.

Ty Galan Opens Its Doors!

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The doors to the latest addition to Orbis Group are now open and we have been taking lots of enquiries already! Ty Galan in Porth is a short break and respite service for children and young people with needs associated with autism. For more information visit the web page by clicking the image or contact us here.

Eco Week Brings Our Pupils Together

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Check out this fantastic clip from our in-house auteur Paulina Kalinowska who previously produced a great film about Welsh Week.
Eco Week took place last week and staff and pupils at Ty Coryton and Ty Bronllys enjoyed a full week of eco-related activities, fun and learning. Click through to watch this short film.
Great work from all and many thanks to Paulina.

Ty Galan, Porth

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Registration is imminent for our brand new short break and respite service in Porth. Ty Galan offers short stays to up to 3 children/young people between 8-19 with a diagnosis of autism or a related condition.

Designed to support individuals with a range of needs, including a learning disability, staff are highly experience and trained, and the service implements a holistic model of learning and care built on lifelong learning, Positive Behavioural Support and Active Support principles.

For more information visit the Ty Galan page here.

Ty Coryton’s latest ESTYN report is published!

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‘Teachers collect and use a wide range of data to evaluate pupils’ progress against very clear and specific targets.’

‘All pupils undertake work experience within the school. They manage and run a tuck trolley and a smoothie shack. They gain experience in marketing, accountancy and stocktaking….The second hand shop initiative provides pupils with meaningful work experience in an external environment.’

Click to see the full report!

Welsh Week

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Welsh Week was a blast at Orbis as our pupils and staff enjoyed loads of cultural activities: visits to castles, museums and other cultural sites, as well as cooking, craft and much more.
Check out this wonderful film produced by Ty Coryton’s LSA Paulina Kilanowska. It gives us a great snapshot of life at Orbis all year round.

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