Marion Cornick, MBE!

We are so proud to share the news with you that our founder & Chair of Directors Marion Cornick has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 90th birthday honours for services to education.

Marion founded The Loddon School, in Sherfield-on-Loddon, in 1988 for children with severe learning difficulties including autism.

She has been involved in special education since 1961.

Marion who has also served as a  governor of Fort Hill Community School in Winklebury, Basingstoke saw an opportunity when an old school closed in 1988 and she personally leased the building from another trust to start a school for children who had no provision at the time.

The Loddon School is both home and school for 28 children who have the most severe and complex learning difficulties. Many children also have additional problems associated with autism and epilepsy, including self-injury, aggression and disruptive behaviour.MC, MBE

The children live at the school 52 weeks a year so The Loddon School is a home which provides education, leisure, play, outings and holidays. All children live in small family groups with their own staff who are responsible for their care and support programme and their social development.

Find out more about Marion’s story on our website.

She said of her award: “I am extremely pleased that the work the school has accomplished for children with autism and severe complex needs has been recognised.”


Exciting Times!

We have a few busy weeks ahead of us and then a busy year!

The Loddon Conference

Loddon Training and ConsultancyThis week, I am running a workshop at The Loddon Training and Consultancy Annual Conference on Promoting Wellbeing. Presenting isn’t one of my favourite things to do, but how could I resist talking about the work that we are starting to do at Liaise on Mindfulness!

PROACT-SCIPr-UK(r) instructors come from across the country to  listen to renowned speakers sharing new ideas and recent research.

This is a great opportunity for our many instructors to network with other professionals within our sector, sharing the work that we are doing and getting new ideas of how to continue to provide increasingly personalised support.
Liaise 20th

Annual Awards Evening

Next week, we have our annual co-worker awards evening. This is a great time to celebrate the hard work and dedication of everyone who works are Liaise Loddon. This year, we are also celebrating the organisation’s 20th birthday! Watch out for pictures and check out our twitter feed for (hopefully) some live updates on the night.

Another visit to Zambia

IMG_0136And then, the week after that, Marion is heading back over to Zambia to continue the work sharing good practice with the teachers at UTH Special School in Lusaka.

Because of the great successes that they have had, the staff at the school are arrange a conference to share information with others and the Ministry of Education is now interested!

Watch out for an update from Marion later on in November.

New Homes!

We have our new single person service, Marika 3, being built and everything is all to plan and we are aiming for a Christmas opening.

Also, we have now made offers on some new houses. It is our aim to be able to support another 3 or 4 individuals in Basingstoke by April 2016 and then another 4 in the Romsey area a few months later. We are so excited to talk about this, but really should wait until all the legal stuff is in place.

We will be looking to recruit new co-workers in a range of roles in both Basingstoke and Romsey area. Please contact us if you want to find out more – you can register on our recruitment page to get updates on new positions as they come up.

Keep in Touch

So, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, check back on our blogs – it is going to be an really exciting time at Liaise!

Deborah Cornick, Managing Director


Times change…………..

Liaise Loddon is about to be twenty years old and Loddon School is now about 27 years old but my life in the world of autism and education goes back much further! So a potted history of the changes in education and care.

chalkMy teaching career started 55 years ago when autism had only been identified for 20 years. My first job as a teacher was in a secondary school in Southampton where I taught English – and was amazed to find children there who couldn’t read or write – or some even who did not speak. Did they have autism I wondered? Today they would be in a special school but this was before the 1970 Education Act which gave education for all and so began the idea of special schools rather than training centres and hospitals.

My next job was in a special unit for children who found attending school difficult for various reasons. Here I met some highly intelligent children who had areas of brilliance and were gifted in certain subjects and who would now be seen as ‘savants’ who excelled in maths, music and art. One very challenging young man left this unit and founded a world famous computer company and was a millionaire at 18! Perhaps these were gifted children with autism at the other end of the spectrum from those I met in my first job.

At this time most children and adults with learning disabilities were usually put into the care of a local long stay hospital for the ‘severely sub-normal’. In the USA there were hospitals for such patients where 10000 or more people lived!

Girl drawing back to school

After a year teaching in a hospital school in New Zealand I knew more about autism. You learn quickly when you have a class of 12 children with no classroom assistant help and the children aged from 12 to 21 are your responsibility from 8.30 till 3.30 without a break – unless the teacher who shared the room with you and her 12 children gave you ten minutes to eat your lunch.  It was an exciting year where I learnt a great deal about classroom management and how to work with a wide range of disabilities and challenges.

‘Dibs in search of self’ by Virginia Axline influenced me at this stage – a really useful book!Dibs

On my return to the UK in 1975 I became Deputy Head of Hope Lodge School for children with Autism – a newly established school and one of the first in the UK for children with autism. On my first day one boy jumped out of the window and ran all the way to the shops about a mile away with me in hot pursuit! One child had to go into a long stay hospital for Christmas and I had to take her there. She was number 37 in a ward with one nurse sitting in a glass box office and 36 other children lying on a rather unsavoury carpet with a TV high on the wall but no other toys at all. It was rather like the films of Romania! But made me decide that one day, I would ensure it could be done better.


During the 1980s I became Head teacher at Greenacres SLD School in Winchester where I introduced EDDY, real learning and the teaching of reading and a school day with a curriculum, teaching strategies and even their first BBC computer. Then I became Director of Education at Ravenswood Village in Berkshire where there were 200 children and adults living in a special village. In this job I introduced assessment and programmed reviews so that children and adults had targets and opportunities to learn new skills.

So from the early days of teaching in Southampton to the work in Berkshire I was working towards a new way of working with people with disabilities and making sure that each person was given respect and opportunity. It was at Ravenswood that I was introduced by a visitor to the developing programme in New York called SCIP. I worked with Janet Bromley and Linzi Holt to develop the programme and deliver it in Ravenswood so that it became a proactive positive programme forming the basis of our work today in Loddon School and Liaise Loddon now known as PROACT-SCIPr-UK®
Now we have more than 700 instructors teaching positive programming and behaviour supports throughout the UK and even in Zambia where we have 6 keen instructors already.

So my teaching journey began when I as a small girl decided to become a teacher and to ensure that children with disabilities were given real opportunities – and look where we are now! Do you have a vision? Where do you want to be and what do you want to achieve?

The world of disability has changed in my life time and will continue to change so that everyone has an opportunity and no one lives in the conditions I saw in old hospitals, and in Romania. Follow your vision!

Marion Cornick Co-founder & Chair of Directors Liaise LoddonMarion Cornick, Chair of Directors

Our Work in Zambia – Supporting children with special needs

DSCN1603Zambia one of the poorest countries in the world situated north of South Africa and south of the Sahara Desert. Zambia was once a British colony but has been independent for fifty years – but struggles to provide health care and education with limited numbers of professionally trained people.

It is usual for example to have one teacher with a class of 95 junior age children. Interestingly the children learn as well as children in the UK as they are desperate to have an education.

Marion was asked to go and give some support to the school which is in the grounds of the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and there are around 250 children in the school with various disabilities and especially autism, cerebral palsy and hearing impairment. The school is staffed with teachers who have some training and it is common for them to have 30 children in a class with no assistants at all. Imagine that in this country!

Marion, Deborah, Georgina and Joanne have been there to give the teachers extra training and especially in communication,  positive behaviour support, classroom management, and PROACT-SCIPr-UK®.

Interestingly they do not need much training in physical interventions as the children are generally well behaved and compliant. However they do need lots of support in understanding autism, how to communicate using pictures and signing, and how to organise their days in school.

We have used some ideas from TEACCH to help with organising areas of the classroom to be for specific activities such as a story corner, a sensory area, water play, music activities, and an area for the class to take part in group activities.

We have spent time teaching the staff how to make equipment using boxes and packaging which are free – and it is great to see how inventive the teachers can be with lots of games and story books and bags to help equip the little library we have set up for them.

parachute 2
Two teachers are now attending university to get qualified in special education and we have been asked to work with the university on our net visit. We now have six teachers who are PROACT-SCIPr-UK® instructors.

Our fundraising both at Loddon and Liaise help with the expense of travel to Zambia and also the cost of the University courses. The Rotary Club of Basingstoke Deane has helped us with these fees and the repair of the school’s minibus. The teachers could not afford the training without our help as everything is very expensive and most people live on low income and many on ‘the dollar a day’.

Kidsfrom UTH-4One little boy in the school has serious difficulties with autism and for the past three years we have only seen him running around and trying to get hold of mobile phones. But on our last visit he wrote a note to us saying ‘I want the book please’ meaning the iPad.

Staff had recently observed him writing and asking for things – we never know what is going on with our children so need not be surprised if they suddenly show that they can read and write. No one had taught him and he really enjoyed working on Joanne’s iPad! He has a wide vocabulary and although not able to talk can now write down what he wants and needs.

IMG_0136Peter has cerebral palsy and cannot support his body at all –  but is very clever – but has no specialist equipment to help him! In the UK he would be in school with lots of technology aids and a teaching assistant.

We have just managed to get him a laptop and he is working on it with his brothers – so some real freedom for him. At the beginning he was just lying on the concrete class room floor facing the wall – not very stimulating!

There is much to do, but the teachers are keen and excited by all we are able to share with them. and as the  teachers learn now to give added skills to the children so the children will learn and have a better chance in life. Education is so important – without it the country will never succeed.

‘It is better to teach a man to fish than to give him fish to eat’

If you want to help talk to Marion and she will give you some ideas of way you can help the project.

Marion CornickKidsfrom UTH-2

Research Autism: Beyond The Sacred Classroom

Marion CornickMarion, our managing director and founder, is speaking at a Research Autism conference in London on July 1.

This is a real privilege for Marion and for Liaise Loddon. Research Autism asked Marion to speak for them because of her brilliant early career working with children – which has led to her amazing work with Liaise Loddon and the Loddon School.

Marion worked to create curriculums that enable children with autism to develop crucial life skills as they become young adults.

An audience of parents and autism professionals will listen to Marion talk. Her presentation, Beyond the Sacred Classroom, will cover her pioneering work with the Loddon School and her much-needed move into working with young adults with autism at Liaise Loddon.

The Loddon School’s curriculum focuses on learning outside the classroom in a natural setting, where children can practise their skills in real life. We’ve found that children who resist learning in the traditional classroom discover that learning can be rewarding and fun – not threatening.

Most of the children at the Loddon School have struggled with the very idea of a classroom, or have spent most of their time outside it, because of their disruptive behaviour. Marion’s approach is to find a way to help children learn that suits them. After all, their disruptive behaviour isn’t down to them being ‘naughty’, it’s their way of showing they can’t cope with traditional learning. The Liaise Loddon and Loddon School way is a huge positive step for children and young adults with autism towards real learning for life.

You’ll be able to read more about Marion’s presentation next month.

Congratulations! Marion and Michael got married

Our founder and director, Marion Cornick, got married to Michael at the end of April – and they had a wonderful day.

Marion and Michael cut their wedding cake

Congratulations Marion and Michael!

There was dancing… there was wine… and there was lots of love and laughter.

She and Michael had everything they needed for their home, so they decided to ask anyone who wanted to give them a gift to make a donation instead.

You may not know that as well as founding the Loddon School and running Liaise Loddon, Marion also supports a school in Zambia. There are 150 children with serious special needs, most of whom have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

The school lacks even the most basic resources. Children arrive hungry, and stay hungry because there’s no food at the school. There are no art materials, no games, no music and no phone. Power is sketchy.

Marion took a team out there in 2012 and trained the teachers in special education. The team also painted classrooms, took toys and equipment and set up a library. The tiniest things, like a rug or a toothbrush, make a huge difference.

The team goes over two or three times a year to work with the children, their teachers and their parents.

To celebrate their wedding, Marion and Michael would like to raise enough money to replace the rickety old school bus. Designed to carry 15, it usually carries many more – sometimes up to 49.

If you think you can spare a few pounds, please visit Marion’s JustGiving page. Your donation will be put to very good use.

Marion and Michael would like to thank everyone who has donated – as well as the money raised on the JustGiving page, they raised a considerable amount during their wedding celebration.

We’ll update you soon about how they’re spending the money.

But in the meantime, if you could help, we – and the children in Zambia – will be very grateful. Thank you!

Supporting Disabled Children in Zambia

In association with The Rotary Club of Basingstoke Deane, Liaise Loddon are planning to support a school in Lusaka, Zambia. It is our aim to help the school there for disabled children – bring them something of the Liaise Loddon and Loddon School philosophy and approaches.

We recently entertained Dr Ravi Paul from Zambia as a result of our connection with Dr. David Percy who has been a school trustee. David works as an adviser to THET (Tropical Health and Education Trust) and Ravi is the only psychiatrist in Zambia where there are 13.2 million people. Ravi was very excited by the work in the school and in Liaise and wants to develop the school in Lusaka using the same positive supports individualised philosophy.

We want to do the work so it does make a difference – so Marion is currently in Zambia to see the school and the scope of the training we need to give to help them. This will be similar to the work that the Loddon School has been doing in Romania and Azerbaijan for many years.

An exciting challenge to support children who really need something better. We will send more information as we make progress and want it to be a real success story in a very poor part of the world.

Marion recognised on the WRVS Gold Age Power List

Marion Cornick, Managing Director of Liaise Loddon, Founder & Chair of Trustees of the Loddon School and President of Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club has been recognised as a Local Hero on the WRVS Gold Age Power List.

The WRVS Gold Age Power List is recognition of the people who are making extraordinary achievements and inspirational contributions in the later decades of their lives. The list celebrates 66 people over 66 from the worlds of arts, sports and adventure, science, public service and business. It also recognises local volunteers who continue to make invaluable contributions in their local communities every day.

This list includes a many very influential people such as The Queen, Delia Smith CBE, Lord Robert Winston, Sir Tom Stoppard, Germaine Greer, Dame Shirley Williams, Michael Palin, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Paul McCartney. It is an honour to see her name alongside them.

We are all extremely proud of her achievements and it is fantastic to see her recognised for all the work that she has done over the years and continues to do supporting children and adults with autism along with their families and also for the time and energy that she puts into the Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club and as joint Chair of the Basingstoke Disability Forum.

Well Done Marion!