Ella has an inherited disorder of bone growth and is wheelchair bound. She joined Treloar School in 2008 when she was 11 years old. When she arrived, she lacked confidence with people she didn’t know and would only respond to those she felt comfortable to be around. Through the work of her multi-disciplinary team, which includes her house staff, Ella’s confidence has come on leaps and bounds and she is now a poised 18 year old who, whilst still a Treloar School student, is studying toward an Animal Management Course Level 3 at Sparsholt College in Winchester. She has applied to UCAS to do a Foundation degree in Animal Management at Sparsholt; her plan is to attend college on a full time basis and she is starting to learn to drive a car so she can commute between home and college.

As with every student, our transition team helps students to establish a series of goals. In Ella’s case, she is extremely focussed on these, whether it is getting faster times at swimming competitions or toward her longer term goal to work with small animals. The staff who have worked with her over the past eight years have pushed Ella’s comfort boundaries and encouraged her more and more to help her to gain more confidence and independence. Ella is an integral member of the Treloar’s Swim Team but also thrives on an active social life; her favourite night out is with friends at a local pub. Ella is a role model to the other students in Allan House, her hall of residence, showing them that, if they are willing to make the effort and push themselves hard, they will get as much as they can from life.

Treloar’s provides the full balance from academics to sports and all of the additional learning our students need to achieve their potential. Ella has been Head Girl several times and Head of Sixth Form. These brought the responsibility of meeting, greeting and spending time with visitors to the School. This experience, though painful and difficult for her at first, helped prepare Ella and build her abilities, eventually leading to her having the confidence to attend her Sparsholt interview with only one assistant and so take the first step toward her dream of working with small animals. Our transition team helped her obtain a work placement at a dog grooming salon to gain more experience. Ella went above and beyond the requirements of the placement, working weekends to build her skills. In her course at Sparsholt, Ella has had to push herself physically, taking her wheelchair across fields to help assist with farm animals and having to stand to climb over fences.

Staff describe Ella as a little ‘magnet’; the other boarders in her house are drawn to her, seeing what she continues to achieve and hearing about all she has already accomplished. She recently went on a safari in South Africa with her Sparsholt colleagues, making her the first wheelchair user to undertake the trip. She met the challenges such a trip posed, including access and having to liaise with staff who were not normally trained to work with disabled people. Ella faced all of this head on and gained further confidence in her ability to overcome any obstacles she may encounter.

When Ella first moved to Allan House at Treloar’s, she chose to liaise with staff through her parents in their frequent visits to campus to deal with any issues she might have. Through the work of the team at Treloar’s, Ella now has the confidence to liaise directly herself to accomplish what she needs to move herself forward to the next step in life. She is a great example of what the team here at Treloar’s aim to achieve through the partnerships they build with the students, their parents and other organisations.