Fir Tree CIC is an independent specialist provider for young people aged 16 – 25 with learning disabilities, social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs that require a personalised approach to their education, health and wellbeing. Our programmes have been designed to be inclusive, engaging and offer an alternative provision beyond the classroom that is practical and vocational in its delivery.
The alternative approach to learning and the relatively low volume delivery means that staff at Fir Tree CIC are able to work closely with learners, their parents, guardians, carers and the teaching and support teams to minimise barriers to learning for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities. Everyone is encouraged to participate in a friendly, safe and supportive learning environment which supports learners to achieve their individual goals and realise their full potential for a positive transition into adulthood. This translates into a very personalised and niche programme for each learner in which they can successfully achieve new qualification, work towards their personal goals and make the successful progression into further education or employment.
Our provision is bespoke to individual learner needs with many young people receiving one to one support. Personalised programmes are practical in nature and involve a variety of outdoor learning opportunities focused around outdoor work preparation, horticulture, angling skills, land-based studies and community engagement. This is supported with the delivery of accredited functional skills outcomes and individual credits and units from our Skilled for Life framework. Accredited programmes are personalised around individual learner needs to develop soft skills and support preparation for adulthood while embedding a range of topics including employability, self-management and independent living skills. Topics that will be developed over the duration of the programme include understanding British Values, developing personal and social relationships, the changing nature of culture and diversity, drug and alcohol awareness, crime awareness, budgeting and home management safety. In addition to this, a number of work preparation credits including developing a CV, applying for work, interview skills, health & safety at work and investigating career choices are interlinked throughout. Learners will also develop the skills required for living independently such as ironing clothes, washing and cooking utilising our excellent facilities.
Fir Tree CIC has a designated Safeguarding Lead who is also a fully qualified and experienced Occupational Therapist. This allows us to develop a safe and supportive learning environment, whilst being able to facilitate arrangements to meet individual learners’ needs and offer help and support to learners with disabilities to participate fully in their education at Fir Tree CIC. All of our Teachers, Tutors and Specialist Educators are sector specific/occupational competent and have experience in working with learners of all abilities within their specialist area.
Learners at Fir Tree CIC have the benefit of a dedicated Learning Manager as the first port of call for parents to contact. Information is provided to share with parents, guardians and carers through a variety of methods such as learner reviews/annual reviews, regular meetings and general ongoing commination.
On a day-to-day basis, parents are encouraged to contact appropriate staff by telephone or e-mail to discuss progress and share concerns, with the education team equally encouraged to communicate any specific changes and developments.
Appointments can be made with the Learning Manager and Occupational Therapist at a mutually convenient time, if parents/guardians prefer to meet face to face. An appointment can be made by contacting the given telephone number or email addresses, and the team will reply promptly.
Fir Tree CIC also organise a number of taster day experiences, open days and evenings and celebration events of learner achievements which we actively encourage families to be part of.
Fir Tree CIC has excellent specialist facilities including a number of log cabin style learning centres containing Apple I-Mac technology. Our newly developed independent living centre also allows young people to develop self-management skills such as preparing meals and home management safety.
A total of 9 acres of outdoor learning environment has also been created including a fully disabled access fishing centre, allotment garden areas, woodlands, meadows and animal habitat areas.
Where further adaptation or equipment is needed to enable learning and to reduce barriers to learning, individual meetings are held with learners, parents/guardians and external specialists to agree reasonable adjustments.
The facility has excellent access for those with disabilities to access both the outdoor and indoor education centre including fully accessible toilet facilities.. The Centre also has a drop zone area for mini-buses and small coaches that might require private or community transport.
The car parks and footpaths around the site are constructed to enable accessibility for wheelchair users.
Fir Tree CIC operates a mini-bus pick up and drop off service for young people requiring this support requirement. There are no cost implications and this service operates for learners based in and around Wigan.
Some learners may also meet the criteria for subsidised transport from the local authority and have special transport arranged for them. Parents or carers should contact the local authority to find out details of how this is assessed and the cost of any contribution they may be required to make.
For those learners not in receipt of subsidised local authority transport, or for learners who want to develop independent travel skills, public transport may be a suitable alternative.
Fir Tree CIC is well served by both buses and a local train station. Information about the routes and cost of transport is available on request. Prior to enrolment, details will be provided with an explanation about the cost and details on bus routes.
Fir Tree CIC works closely with the local services and schools to share information on learners’ attainment and support needs in order to ensure a smooth transition to post 16 education. This can begin as early as six months a learner starts their placement with Fir Tree CIC.
Our team of specialist staff including our Occupational Therapist, SEND Manager and Learning Co-ordinator can attend transition and review meetings for learners requiring additional support requirements to develop a suitable personalised provision. Career aspirations and suitable courses are explored, matching the level of attainment of the learner, in order that the best choices are made to achieve success. Discussion also takes into consideration the educational, personal, social, health and care needs of each individual learner, so that barriers to learning can be minimised by putting reasonable adjustments in place.
Fir Tree CIC already has strong links with local schools Including Oakfield High School and College, The Dean Trust and Edmond Arrowsmith High School through alternative education opportunities for their learners many of whom enjoy their time so much at Fir Tree CIC and feel valued and supported by our specialist staff. This enables them to become familiar with the setting and help build up a confident relationship with staff prior to their transition. In partnership with local schools, services and the local authority teams, we can deliver school information sessions and a range of taster day experiences aimed at improving the knowledge and skills of learners in preparation for transition. These events also give learners the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the facility and meet smaller groups of other new learners, before they start their full time programme.