We are taking the opportunity to talk to some of our members and profile what they do, read all about this month’s member Releasing Potential.

What do you/your organisation do?

Releasing Potential has been operating, since 2001, as an educational charity and independent school for children and young people with Special Educational Needs. We offer a bespoke needs-based curriculum rooted in outdoor education and vocational training, supporting children who face a range of social, emotional and practical barriers to accessing mainstream education. The organisation is comprised of six key areas: an independent school for fifty students; an outdoor education centre of excellence; an academic research institute; a large scale forest school provision; an independent SEN mediation service; and a selection of small social enterprise businesses run on a not-for-profit basis. Over the past eighteen years, we have worked with the most vulnerable children and young people in the sector, and now offer consultancy, accredited training, and a range of resources for professionals working in education and the outdoor sector.

How long have you been an AIM Member?

We first joined AIM on 11/03/08 and so this year would be our tenth

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job are the outcomes that we achieve for the children and young people we work with.  This is achieved by working with a great staff team who have a passion for the marginalised of society, and firmly believe in the impact that the outdoors can have on all participants—whether they are young or old and marginalised or fully engaged with society, etc.

What issues do you think the industry faces this year?

Some of the biggest issues we are facing as a sector are:

  • Understanding our own identity and having clarity around the providers’ purpose
  • The transition from the largely centre-based sector to a more mobile provision is still ongoing: this requires a slightly different language describing what is provided
  • How we reflect and meet the needs of society in a changing world, from an aging population which requires support from the NHS framework to a young generation who is experiencing education through mechanisms which were created in the Victorian age (these were radical in their time but now need revisiting).

What benefits have you gained from being an AIM Member?

Apart from some amazing gatherings in spectacular settings, I have found that AIM’s approach to insurance is refreshing and reliable.  We have had two claims over the ten years and both have been dealt with kindness and understanding. Additionally, being a member has enabled me to meet a wide spectrum of others in the industry which has developed my understanding of what is happening in our sector.

What exciting projects do you have lined up for the future?  

We have recently developed a suite of online qualifications for professionals working with young people with challenging behaviour. Aimed at those in settings outside the traditional classroom environment, the courses a specific to: outdoor education, Special Educational needs, and Youth Work. We also offer taught qualifications in behaviour management in (Levels 3 and 4) and a Level 5 Diploma in Education & Training (NCFE). We are really excited about bringing our experience to the sector through accessible training content, and about learning from others who work in a diverse range of fields.

In September, we are starting a new project called ‘School in Nature’ during which we’ll be returning us to our roots as an outreach provider in many ways. The project will give children and young people at risk of exclusion (as well as those already excluded) the opportunity to embark on a rich curriculum via a Forest School model privileging social-emotional learning alongside core subjects.

We are also involved in creating a water-based community hub where we accommodate the needs of local canoeing, sailing and rowing clubs through a ‘club house’ which will be run by our Special Needs students as part of their engagement with work placements.

What’s your favourite activity?

This is difficult to choose as I have had the privilege of participating in a range of activities and over the years; I have managed to gain instructing & coaching qualifications in a number of them.  Although my heart is for the mountains, living on the South Coast means my competence and passion is for sailing in all its forms (canoes, dinghies and yachts).

What activity do you want to try?

The one activity I have never tried is para gliding, I have seen the scores of parachutes circling over the Alps and it has fired my imagination.

Releasing Potential institute will be holding their 3rd annual conference – Managing Transitions in Education, Support & Social care.

Against the backdrop of funding cuts and the closure of vital services, good transitions for children and young people are needed more than ever, and can make a real difference to outcomes and life prospects for the most vulnerable in society.

General admission gives access to 2 keynotes plus a choice of over 10 workshops, breakfast upon arrival and lunch. Book your place today!