Help us to continue to provide a crucial service to our young people with severe autism by supporting the upkeep of our Countryside Learning Centre (CLC).

Young person feeding a ponyIt is a much loved part of the adapted curriculum providing animal therapy, work experience opportunities, physical exercise, a calming environment and important life skills in looking after and working with animals. 

Our Countryside Learning Centre was opened in 2007 and is a unique service that we believe all young people with autism would benefit from. It has become a vital part of each young person's adapted curriculum at Prior's Court. 

For many of our young people, communicating their needs and feelings is very difficult, most are pre-verbal and experience high levels of anxiety. So working with our animals means communication barriers are dispersed and many make an important connection with the animal, which can bring about significant and positive change for the individual.

How you can help us

View from Countryside Learning Centre at Priors CourtWe have 11 animals, numerous paddocks, a nature trail, a yard, classroom, willow area for stories and quiet time, a therapy paddock, 4 stables and a boot room. 

Working outdoors and with animals is calming, peaceful, can be very structured and supports physical activity goals. The simple repetitive nature of the work in the Countryside Learning Centre suits the characteristics of young people with severe autism very well, even though they all use it differently.

Tinsel the Priors Court rabbitAll our animals have been kindly donated, but the cost of looking after them is around £3,500 per year so we are asking for your help to provide their food, bedding and care costs. For example: 

  • Nibbles, Brambles and Tinsel the rabbits cost £140 each per year
  • Dizzy the goat costs £240 per year
  • Boris and Percy the pigs cost £270 each per year
  • Sarah, Sue and Dan the sheep cost £330 each per year
  • Our pony, Merrylegs costs £560 per year
  • Boris the pig at our Countryside Learning CentreFood for all animals costs £1,372 per year

We need your help to ensure we can continue to provide this vital programme for our young people. Whatever you're able to give will help them overcome immense challenges, so please donate here.

Amazing achievements

The Countryside Learning Centre enables us to provide a varied programme of animal therapy, animal husbandry and vocational opportunities such as cleaning the stables, feeding the animals and learning how to handle them. The team running the Countryside Learning Centre has seen some amazing progress from regular visits by some of our young people. Diana, Head of Outdoor Learning recalls how working with the chickens helped one student:

Seeing one young man understand the link between an egg and a chicken for the first time; seeing the joy he felt when he got it; when he held the egg and then saw a chicken being born, he made the connection.

Merrylegs the Priors Court ponyMaxine, Vocational Skills Instructor working alongside Diana, has a fond memory of how one student‘s behaviour had become so challenging, he was at risk of exclusion. But the CLC staff had seen a spark in his eye when he was with them. So they engaged him in animal therapy every day and his behaviour calmed and improved dramatically.

All of this wouldn't have been possible without the generous support of those who contributed to the Appeal back in 2007 when the idea became a reality, and as we grow our services your support is invaluable. Help us to continue to provide this important part of our programme supporting young people with severe autism.

THANK YOU