A NEWLY elected chairman will spend the next 12 months raising funds to support a special school.
Colin Pearce, of Checkley, has been elected the new 2014/15 chairman of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and has nominated The Meadows School in Leek as the beneficiary of his year-long fund-raising to help students learn skills and gain employment.
The school provides education for young people aged 11 to 19 with a range of physical disabilities, profound, severe and moderate learning difficulties.
Mr Pearce said: "It's an honour to be chosen for this important role and I'm very much looking forward to representing the council and promoting the Moorlands as part of my duties.
"The other key thing I want to focus on over the next year is helping The Meadows raise funds for a project aimed at helping students learn skills which may help them find employment and become skilled workers in adult life – in my view, a very important project."
Thanks to a lottery grant, the school is building a horticulture centre which will deliver sensory experiences, enterprise activities and accreditations and qualifications for students.
Christopher Best, headteacher of The Meadows Special School, said: "Our ultimate aim is to provide young people with the best chance of finding independence and employment when they leave us as adults.
"For some young people this is about having access to the community and the outdoors, while for others it is about getting and holding down a job.
"Far too many young people with learning disabilities find there is nothing at the end of their pathway through education. With the help of councillor Pearce we hope to change that."
A long-term aim is to help students become skilled workers and find employment in adult life by working with community groups to form a partnership which can bid for contracts to manage and maintain gardens and estates.
The intention is that students will, with supervision, maintain gardens and local community areas. Ultimately, this will lead to students gaining skills and then employment in the local area.
The school hopes to raise up to £20,000 to help purchase transport and equipment to support the venture including a multi-person vehicle to transport small groups of students; a trailer for heavy equipment; and garden maintenance tools. These items will also allow extra curricular activities to be extended benefiting all students.
Mr Pearce added: "The project is in the early stages but I do feel it's worth backing.
"If it's successful, it will provide some students with practical skills they can use to gain employment and, for others, it will enhance their independence and quality of life.
"It's a legacy initiative which will have lasting benefits and I'm delighted to be able to use my appointment as council chairman to assist the school with this worthwhile initiative."