We provide a high level of teaching, therapy and care that meets the needs of all the children who attend to build a sound foundation during their formative years. Our environment is ‘special’ and children generally settle quickly and flourish within the structured setting where we have resources and equipment to provide the support they need.
We give children time and encouragement, with lots of repetition and routines that help them feel confident and able to express themselves.
We also support parents through each phase of their child’s development. It can be a difficult time for parents who feel uncertain about what to do and even less certain about all the people and meetings they are invited to. We have a Coffee Room where they can meet, sleep on the settee, chat, get cross and maybe just cry a bit! All of which are good to do sometimes – so we hope they feel happy to be here. We let them decide how long they want to stay with their children so they get to know us and feel confident to leave their child in our care and have a few hours to themselves. It is important to celebrate each small step they make in their development and to share that with parents/carers.
For our younger children or less mobile children that require a high level of specialist intervention. They are then gradually introduced to other areas within the setting. Early skills are developed and the children learn to play together. They are introduced to Makaton and the development of sounds with visual supports and routines. They are encouraged to become more independent and build on their social skills.
Sensory Garden and Play Area
The calm environment is highlighted in our garden with a range of sensory toys, musical instruments, plants, water, sand area etc.
The garden has lovely interesting features with areas for digging, water play with water feature, mirrors, sound tubes, dens, tunnels, and a sensory line with a variety of textures and sounds.
In our gym we have soft play equipment, parallel bars, balance beams, swinging bars.
We have a great team of very dedicated staff who are qualified and experienced with knowledge and resources that have been built up over many years. We share our expertise and help with transitions into other settings and schools to ensure that the children’s needs will be met as they move into full time education. We encourage attendance at mainstream settings and support them as much as possible.
Staff are trained to use Makaton to support language, Picture Exchange Communication with visual cues, to use language interventions through speech therapy targets set by the local Speech Therapists and our teacher sees them on a 1-1 or in a small groups. We also work closely with physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
The John McNeill Opportunity Centre was formed in 1979 by a small group of parents who had pre-school children with special needs and could not find the support they required during the early years of their children’s lives.
John McNeill was the son of a local surgeon who was killed in a road traffic accident and his parents helped to raise funds to build our Centre. Over the years we have developed and now work alongside mainstream settings to provide a specialist environment with vital services that help children develop the essential strong foundations that will benefit them the rest of their lives.