Seashell Trust's 10 out of 10: Elliot Smith

Student Elliot Smith's quote and his picture

To celebrate our decade as Seashell Trust, we are sharing ten top people who have been at the heart of our family during the last ten years – staff, volunteers, supporters and most importantly our extraordinary students and their families.

Let us know who else you think is 10 out of 10!

We often ask people to sum Seashell up in 10 words and we love what Elliot Smith’s parents Angela and Trevor told us: Specialist Enabling Aspirational Supportive Helpful Empowering Learning Life skills.         

They have definitely captured their 16-year-old son’s time at the Seashell Trust’s Royal School Manchester.

They said: “Our favourite thing about Seashell Trust is the staff. They are honestly amazing. Without a doubt, the key to Elliot's happiness and his successes during his 11 years at the school has been down to the care, skills, commitment and expertise of everyone there. He loves school.”

But choosing the special care of Seashell resulted in huge family upheaval.

Angela said: “Elliot was born with CHARGE syndrome, which caused a cluster of serious medical conditions requiring surgery in his early years. He is also profoundly deaf and has severe learning and communication disabilities, as well as balance and mobility issues.

“We had lived in Greater London for many years. Elliot attended a local mainstream school with a deaf unit but it became clear he needed far more specialist support.  We heard about Seashell Trust and once we had looked round and spoken to staff, we were convinced it was perfect. It was an enormous step to move to an entirely different part of the country, but it was a brilliant decision and we have absolutely no regrets.”

Angela noted talking to other parents, especially new parents to Seashell, they often remarked on the difference the school has made to their child. Although improvements may sometimes seem at a glacial pace, students end up achieving things they - and their parents - never thought they could.

Angela said: “Due to Elliot’s needs, progress will always be slow. However, the consistent and patient approach taken by the school over the years has meant his communication and signing skills have steadily improved, as has his confidence and independence. Because of the huge number of opportunities available, his physical development, in particular his cycling, walking, running, climbing and swimming, have progressed amazingly. It gives him (and us) a great deal of pleasure.”

After a decade of lessons at Seashell, Elliot has recently begun to swim independently.

Angela said: “It is a massive achievement. The perseverance by school staff - and Elliot - has finally paid off. This is now undoubtedly his favourite activity.

“Last year, he completed the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. This involved two days of outdoor activities and camping.  Despite constant rain, he loved every minute of it.”

“Our lives have been greatly improved by the activities and services outside of the school day. Elliot regularly attends CADS in the holidays and this, together with the short break provision, has been a hugely positive experience for Elliot and a massive support for us as parents. The lovely new housing development has made a real difference to the lives of the children. They are beautiful and well-equipped and Elliot has been lucky to take his short break respite here.”