A blog from Archie Drummond (22), former pupil at I CAN’s John Horniman School.

Archie Drummond was a pupil at I CAN’s John Horniman school, Worthing, which closed in 2003. Archie, now 22, talks below about his experience at the specialist school, and how the support he received there helped him become the person he is today. Archie is still supporting I CAN as he recently raised £695 for I CAN’s Meath School by completing an Strong Man Competition in Barcelona. Thank you Archie from all at I CAN!

Archie said, “I attended John Horniman School between the ages of 4 and 9 as my parents had been told that I needed to attend a non-mainstream school. Before I started at John Horniman, I found it difficult communicating with people and even found it tricky with my parents. I found it hard to understand other people, which made me reluctant to talk and I sometimes had tantrums out of frustration.

At the age of 4, I started to board at John Horniman School. I was a bit scared before I went as I didn’t know what to expect. After I got dropped off, however, I was warmly greeted by one of the teachers who stayed with me and made me feel welcome. The school was a very loving and kind environment – it was the first instance where I’d had friends, which was a very nice experience.

The teaching methods at John Horniman involved using interactive games, which were stimulating and helped me to focus and concentrate. One of the classes which I remember involved a game where you had to guess someone else’s feelings using picture flashcards. I saw it as a fun game, but looking back it was valuable and educational.

By the age of 9, I had made enough progress to move from John Horniman into a mainstream school. At first it was difficult to adapt, but I soon settled in. At the age of 13, I moved with my family to Singapore where I sat my GCSEs. My time at John Horniman prepared me well for such a huge change – we wouldn’t have been able to move to Singapore if I hadn’t attended the school. When I returned to the UK, I attended another mainstream school for 2 years for my A-levels where I developed a keen interest in judo. I took a gap year after this, during which time I learnt more martial arts, travelled and worked in a top restaurant in New Zealand!

I have been in my current job as Underwriting Assistant in an insurance firm for nearly a year now. It is interesting and I am enjoying living in London. I sometimes still get a little nervous in large crowds, but I can calm myself down and deal with situations which I used to find difficult. When I meet you new people, I think, “What did I learn at John Horniman? Apply it now.” I am keen to progress in my career and hope to become a Deputy Underwriter and then an Underwriter in years to come.

If I hadn’t have been in such a supportive environment as I experienced at John Horniman, then I believe that I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Before I attended John Horniman School, my parents had consulted experts who said that I would struggle and would not amount to much. Thanks to Janet Dunn and all of the teachers, this has been proved wrong. I am very grateful for the help and support I received during my time at John Horniman and I am looking forward to the future.”