Northleigh House School was established in 2012 to take in vulnerable secondary school aged children who have dropped out of mainstream education due to bullying, or anxiety issues or because they are on the autistic spectrum. Many of these children have been at home and out of the education system for weeks, if not months and so have become withdrawn and lacking in self-confidence due to the gap in their education and the absence of social interaction with their peers. Here at Northleigh, we provide a safe and nurturing environment where they can continue their education in small class sizes with a pupil-teacher ratio of no more than 3:1, as well as mentoring and pastoral support. So far we have helped over 80 students and we currently have 30 students with us in this school year.
However, as the school has grown and thrived, the day to day running of the school has grown too. Because we are only small and we are also a charity, we haven't previously been able to afford a caretaker or groundsman, so have relied on groups of corporate volunteers who come to Northleigh to carry out jobs such as gardening, decorating, minor building tasks, moving heavy furniture and burning rubbish. Moreover, our founder and Chair of Trustees, Viv, who lives at the school and takes in deliveries as well as manages volunteer visits out of school hours, is now well past retirement age. So, we have decided that it is time to employ a live-in caretaker at the school who could take on all of these jobs for us as well as providing an onsite presence during the holidays.
As well as providing much-needed practical help around the school, having a live-in caretaker would mean that we could introduce some animals to the school for the students to look after. Currently we have a therapy dog, Benji, who is very popular with the students, especially at times of stress when they don't necessarily want to chat to a person. Having animals such as chickens or goats would mean that we could introduce animal husbandry to our extra-curricular activities. Not only would this be an extra life-skill, it also reinforces responsibility and kindness in our students. The majority of our students move onto apprenticeships or vocational college courses after they finish at Northleigh; we already offer photography, woodworking, cookery and textiles in addition to the regular academic subjects, so animal husbandry would be a perfect fit.
The Finished Article:
We have sourced a bespoke garden building that would entail a bedroom, kitchenette, bedroom and bathroom so allowing our caretaker to be completely self-sufficient and to have his or her own private space.