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13-year-old Charlotte is a determined, kind, and thoughtful young person who is absolutely thriving at Chailey Heritage Foundation. Born healthy, after just seven months she was diagnosed with Glutaric Aciduria Type 1 and she lost all physical ability, the only part of her body she could move was her eyes.

With care and support, Charlotte is enjoying an active life at Chailey Heritage Foundation including swimming, using the trike, walker, and standing frame, and she can even order her own lunch using her VOCA (voice output communication aid) by selecting symbols and messages on it by using her joystick.

She is a whizz with technology and even has WhatsApp on her VOCA to send messages to her family. Her Mum says, “If I get a WhatsApp from Charlotte, I’ll show it to everyone around me because I’m so excited!”

The focus at Chailey Heritage Foundation is to encourage independence, whether that’s a young person learning to do something by themself or directing somebody to do something for them. Everyday excellence is at the heart of our mission and our Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ school is leading the way on how children with profound and multiple needs can and should be educated.  Its impact is as far-reaching as Ekisa Academy in Uganda and Vicktress Bower School in California, along with many visitors within the UK learning from our expertise.  

Every pupil has their own curriculum built specifically for them - the Chailey Heritage Individual Learner Driven (CHILD) Curriculum. The curriculum aims to progress every pupil by assigning them personalised targets. In Charlotte’s case, her VOCA allows her to explore vocabulary and express her ideas and she loves to make up stories, spell words, and freely express herself.  She has also learned how to send emails, her schoolwork, and send messages to friends and family.

Teacher and PMLD (Profound, Multiple Learning Disabilities) lead, Julie Tilbury, explains that all the young people at Chailey Heritage are treated with dignity and respect. The focus is to support alongside the child, rather than to the child, to enable them to become as independent as possible. She explains that “all of the staff here have a passion to help young people reach their full potential.”  Charlotte’s Mum concludes, “At Chailey Heritage Foundation, I get a chance to take a deep breath and just enjoy being Charlotte’s Mum and see her amazing achievements.” 

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