If you missed Dr Anna Kennedy’s interview this week on Women’s Radio Station with Elena Vidal it will be aired again this weekend at 1pm and 1am.
Elena Vidal was born in Leon, a beautiful city in the northwest of Spain. Thanks to an Eramus scholarship that she received when she was studying for her BA English Language and Linguistics in Madrid, she moved to London.
Her life completely changed when she did a work experience placement at St Mary Magdalene Academy when she was studying a master’s degree at Middlesex University. Supporting a child on the autism spectrum opened Elena’s eyes in regards to what autism and how fascinating it is to see the world from a different angle.
Elena completed her PGCE and then she specialised herself in SEN and autism and started to work at The Courtyard school.
Within the six years that Elena has worked at the Courtyard, she has progressed to a valued position of leadership as the Head of 6th form provision and the Outreach Lead.
At the Courtyard, Elena supports pupils to investigate different types of careers and the routes into these careers. This support is offered through academic guidance, social and emotional support, and practical work experience placements.To date, the Courtyard has a 0% NEET value (number of people not in education, employment or training).
Elena is passionate about researching the next steps for our pupils and supporting them effectively to succeed once they have left the school. Elena always compliments the headteacher and the staff team, as without them all this wouldn’t be possible. Elena is very grateful to all members of staff at the Courtyard.
Elena believes every young person with autism deserves a fighting chance to make a successful transition from school and college to work. ‘We work very hard every day to ensure all individuals, regardless of their needs, are respected and valued for their talents and abilities,’ she shares.
Elena has recognised the need for developmental outreach in colleges and local businesses to support the needs of pupils with autism spectrum condition (ASC) and other additional needs in order to develop their skills and professional practice and ultimately benefit from the gifts that such individuals can bring to an organisation.
This is an innovative and creative approach to tackling the concerning statistics published by government (2016) that only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time work.
That’s why an outreach initiative started in September 2019 in order to raise autism awareness and make sure young people on the autism spectrum can have a successful career journey in the workplace.
Elena believes the autism training courses offered to companies not only help people on the autism spectrum (better self-esteem, improved mental health and well-being, independence, among others) but also companies themselves. If companies increase neurodiversity in the workplace, they can become more profitable.
By enabling the workplace to extract the potential out of all of employees, companies can benefit from the strengths people with autism have, such as: problem solving skills and attention to detail, high levels of concentration, reliability and loyalty, technical ability and specialist interest and resourcefulness.