Prior’s Court employee to receive an MBE

Sarah Butcher - Director of Residential Care Services at Prior’s Court School is to be appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List. We are very proud of Sarah and her commitment to the young people at Prior's Court. The award is in deserved recognition of Sarah’s services to children with special educational needs and disabilities, and for developing autism care expertise in the UK.

Sarah Butcher - Director of Care ServicesThatcham resident Sarah has been an employee of Prior’s Court since the day it opened in 1999, starting as Head of Night Care, before moving into training and consultancy, and finally into her current role as Director of Residential Care in 2011.

Over this time, she has supported the organisation’s growth and development, achieving outstanding OFSTED gradings and being individually highlighted for her outstanding leadership. In turn she has directly improved the quality of life for hundreds of young people, and reached thousands more through training of over 3,000 parents and staff as an advanced TEACCH practitioner and trainer.

On finding out she had been recommended for the award, Sarah commented:

I was genuinely shocked and floored when I found out – things like this don’t happen to normal people. I dearly love my work, and to be recognised for doing something which you love seems strange. It’s an honour to be nominated, but it’s also an honour to work with the young people. They’re my teachers and my constant source of inspiration.

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of Prior’s Court wholeheartedly supported Sarah’s recommendation for an MBE, saying:

Sarah knows every single one of our young people here individually and will never give up on any of them, no matter how challenging or complex their needs and behaviours may be. Her contribution to the most complex of cases has resulted in an invitation to sit on an NHS review panel, where Sarah will advise to support successful transitions into adult placements. Sarah’s leadership and management are remarkable, rivalled only by her commitment to the young people and her unrelenting dedication to continually bringing about improvements.

Sarah’s career in the care sector started even before she joined Prior’s Court, giving her a total of 28 years worth of service. In 1993 she spent six months in Japan as a development specialist in a special needs school where she also undertook a research project studying the Japanese approach to teaching people with learning difficulties. This research informed the development of an approach called the ‘waking day curriculum,’ which is now widely used in the autism sector.

Sarah said:

You learn something new every day here at Prior’s Court. Autism is fascinating, enlightening, demanding, and challenging. It’s a puzzle which we can help to solve for our young people so that they can learn to thrive, grow, achieve and be part of society; it’s about development and understanding rather than containment and just being ‘ok’.

I’m a practitioner at heart, but now I’m in a position where I can represent these young people and give them a voice, helping to shape, influence and improve the future for them. Autism is becoming more prevalent but there still needs to be more understanding.