Supporting children’s reintegration back into education

Twelve children have recently taken part in our Supported Learner Programme at Ride High Equestrian Centre funded by the L&Q Foundation: Tackling Inequalities Fund. The children attended in groups of three from schools across Milton Keynes. They all had additional needs and special education needs (SEND) which impact on their learning, physical development, communication, social and emotional development and behaviour. This year has been particularly difficult for the children as their lives have been massively disrupted by the pandemic. Participation in our programme helped to provide some consistency and support their reintegration back into normal day-to-day life and school.

The children attending the programme don’t cope well in a classroom environment, most are on a reduced timetable. At Ride High we’ve used horses as a way to connect with them – to teach them new skills, to help them to develop essential behavioural qualities, and to support increased engagement at school. 

The children followed our structured programme which includes set activities and works towards set outcomes each week. Activities included grooming and bathing the horses, mucking out stables and riding. At all times they were closely supervised by our experienced team and their support workers.

Feedback from the schools was extremely positive: 

All the children have really enjoyed their sessions. They have gained enormous confidence in working with the horses and all that that entails, but they have also become more confident in class.

One of my child’s attendance was 30% before starting at Ride High. They now have 100% attendance. This child’s wellbeing was a 1 previously and when I asked him recently how he was feeling he said 5+. I asked him what had changed and he said Ride High.

The impact on these young people has been immense. X was extremely nervous at first, scared even to stroke a horse, and it took him a good five minutes to mount his horse during the first session. However, after his second session his confidence increased, and he is now fully engaged with the experience. X starts talking to me at school about Ride High on a Monday (our sessions are on a Wednesday) and he always has a big smile on his face.

Z has grown in confidence with his riding, and always has a huge smile on his face for the entire session. He looks forward to Ride High each week and cannot wait to go back to his class to tell his teacher what he has accomplished. He also recalls his experiences during the week with me. I have been astounded by the difference that Ride high has made to the children, both in their confidence and demeanour.

Supporting children’s reintegration back into education