Dawn House School

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Life in Residential

A Sixth form residential student describes his typical day at Dawn House School


The Morning


The residential staff give me a knock at 07:30 to remind me it’s time to get up – I should be able to get up by myself, I know this is what I’ll have to do when I leave Dawn House – but hey, I’m a teenager! My keyworker is doing lots of independence skills with me to prepare for the future… I’m great at cooking but rubbish at getting myself out of bed in a morning.


It’s 08:30 and I’m sprawled out on a comfy armchair eating toast and watching the news on TV, a member of the residential staff has made me a cup of tea. You may have gathered by now that I’m not a morning person. I am reminded by one of the other students to wash my pots before I walk over to Sixth Form – I get there with a minute to spare but I’m ready for the day ahead… bring it on.


The School Day


I meet up with my friends in the common area; we have a catch up and some banter before I go to form at 08:50 – practising social skills is just as important as ironing your trousers and making spag bol for tea!


I have planned for the day ahead and have all the stuff I need with me… I sometimes need help to plan the night before, it’s usually all good.


I enjoy most of the lessons – especially Maths and science; I like experiments, particularly in biology. I have extra support in my lessons from a Teaching Assistant or Speech Therapist. I prefer to work independently when I can, but sometimes things become too difficult and I need help – staff always seem to know when to step in and support me. I have been using Text Help, which is an app to help people with dyslexia – it definitely helps me with my English work.


I also have regular one-to-one therapy lessons with a Speech Therapist, we have been looking at vocabulary and rhyming words. We write reflections of the week, on Fridays too.


It’s great spending time with my friends at break and lunch time – things can get a bit loud sometimes but it’s all good fun. At the end of the day, we all say our goodbye… sometimes one of my friends will join us in the residency for tea and an activity.


The Evening


3:30pm, it’s the end of the school day and I make my way back to the residency – residential staff are waiting to say hello and ask about my day… 3.35pm, five minutes later I’m back in my favourite comfy armchair drinking tea and eating biscuits – I made the tea this time, it was my turn.


I enjoy the opportunity to relax after school, other students prefer to stay in their room or play FIFA on the Xbox. If it gets too loud  I take time -out in my room.


Dinner is usually cooked by residential staff, but some evenings students help. I like to make pasta bake. I make it using fresh ingredients, it’s quite easy really – I put all the ingredients and pasta together and whack it in the oven for forty minutes. I can make as much mess as I want because we also take turns to clear away and wash the pots. Before dinner I sort my laundry – I usually need a reminder.


I generally take part in activities that are on offer later in the evening, we might just play games in the hall or nip down to Tesco – I find it easier to pay using the self-scanners. When chatting or at house meetings we suggest things we would like to do, and we are helped to plan our own activities – if we need help. I have planned a trip to Laser Quest – you are talking to the Top Gun here.


I like to meet new people and there are plenty of opportunities for this –we use facilities in Mansfield whenever we can. We go to the youth club and do activities with Spectrum Wasp group; I enjoy playing Dodge Ball when they visit- I also liked it when we went to the pool hall with them. We meet up once a month.


We also do activities without planning; a member of staff might say let’s go into Matlock and get some chips or go for a walk if the weather is nice.  We all get on quite well – sometimes students fall out – but that’s normal. We have been to loads of places in the evenings, like the Snow Dome, Theatre, Ice hockey and the Aeropark museum. We have been on day trips too to Blackpool and Butlins at Skegness.


I’m not a big fan of doing the AIM Award which we do one evening a week – it’s to help with independence skills. I understand why we do it, and I get on with it – but like I said before… I’m a teenager and I like to moan!


We all start to wind down around 21:00, it’s like being at home. We all sit and chat whilst we watch the TV. I often ring home at this time. My keyworker helps me to prepare for the next day and we go through my timetable, so I know what I’ll be doing.. On Thursday nights I pack my stuff ready for my taxi home on Friday – it takes me three hours to get home.

22:00 off to our rooms we go. I usually listen to music or sometimes I will go straight to sleep.