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Celebrating a special journey through school for Hannah.

Attending your school prom is a big moment for most teenagers, but for Kingsdown School pupil Hannah and her family, this moment was particularly special.

Hannah, 16, has Down’s syndrome and other medical needs. For mum Maria, her dad Hipolito and her brothers Hans and Hew, who dote on her, this milestone – representing successful completion of her secondary education – is the result of Hannah’s determination to achieve, and a reflection of the outstanding support she has been given along the way.

When Hannah reached secondary school age, her parents Maria and Hipolito had to think carefully about her secondary education – looking for a school where she could be supported and encouraged to reach her full potential.

Thanks to staff at Kingsdown School, who visited her at her primary school and were confident they could support her in mainstream education, Hannah has grown and thrived.

“From year seven, she moved into a totally new environment – new staff, new friends,” Maria said. “But the school supported her so well, she sailed through this transition. She enjoyed 5 glorious years at Kingsdown Secondary School.

“She always had a smile on her face going to school, as it has a warm, welcoming environment. The staff went above and beyond to guide her in her learning, giving her confidence to attempt all tasks in class and participate actively. Her new friends have also been so caring and courteous to her.”

To celebrate Hannah’s prom on Friday July 9th, family and friends, who have supported Hannah on her journey so far, were there to wave her on her way to her prom night from the family home.

Swindon Carers Centre supports Maria and Hipolito as parent carers for Hannah, and organised her transport to the prom at Kingsdown School.

Steve, who volunteers for Swindon Carers Centre, arrived to pick Hannah up and grant her wish of arriving at her prom night on the back of a motorbike.

During her time at Kingsdown School, Hannah furthered her love for dance, which saw her perform on stage for school Christmas concerts and with Swindon Dance too – a passion which she will continue through weekly dance lessons.

Having access to an alternative PE curriculum, catch-up programmes to boost learning, cooking lessons, a speech and language therapist, and the school’s Haven club at break and lunchtimes also made a real difference to her time in secondary education.

During Covid-19 the family felt a wave of support from staff via personal videos, written messages and phone calls – ensuring that Hannah continued to feel part of online classes.

“We were just so proud to mark Hannah’s journey so far by helping her to choose her prom dress, getting her ready for her big night and waving her on her way,” Maria said. “We would like to thank all the staff for making Hannah’s time a wonderfully productive experience. They truly helped her develop the skills, coordination and confidence needed to perform in front of a live audience.”


Hannah in year 7

Hannah is now looking forward to starting at New College, Swindon, to build on her creative and artistic skills.

Writing to Hannah in a personal note, headteacher Mrs Leigh-Bennett said: “Hannah has been a tremendous role-model and inspiration to everyone at Kingsdown. She leaves us to enter an exciting new chapter at New College. She’ll be an out and out success, of that I have no doubt.”