Home Children and Young People Learners with high needs are punching their way to fitness and independence
Flourish FE learners at Derry Mathews' gym

Learners with high needs are punching their way to fitness and independence

by Sandra Issar

Young adults with high needs in Knowsley have been given a huge boost through weekly sessions with former boxing champion Derry Mathews.

Learners from Flourish Further Education, a post-19 specialist education centre for young people with high needs, have been attending boxercise sessions at Derry Mathews’ Gym. The programme is backed by the Maverick Stars Trust charity, which gives people the opportunity to shine through sport.

Flourish aims to develop learners’ independence and ultimately prepare them for adult life in the local community.

The boxercise sessions promote exercise, health and wellbeing and also self-help skills, all a key part of the FE’s curriculum.

Lexley, Josh’s mum, said:

This has given Josh a lot of confidence. Young people with SEN are usually highly protected and take part in so many activities that are catered / altered for them so that they are safe. It is amazing to see Josh and the others take part in something that is perceived as a ‘mainstream’ activity just like anyone else.


“They are learning so many life skills – preparation for the session starts at Flourish – visual reminders, risk assessments, getting in the car and travelling safely to the Gym. Josh is also exposed to different environments and building on his independence and self-help skills.”

Barbara, Joe’s mum, added:

Joe is obviously enjoying it because he will come home on a Wednesday and talk about the boxing, which he doesn’t usually do.”

Joe Scanlon, Tutor at Flourish FE, commented:

Our learners really look forward to the classes and when they go home, they are telling their parents all about it. It’s great to hear that they’re enjoying them.


“The classes are perfect for our learners, as they improve their physical fitness and wellbeing, along with exposing them to different environments and progressing their independence and self-help skills. The learners will also gain an accredited qualification from Boxing Awards and will receive medals and certificates to recognise their achievements.”

Derry Mathews, retired professional boxer, said:

I decided to run this session as I really enjoy working with young adults, watching them progress and learn new skills. The aim of this course is to improve their physical fitness, wellbeing and getting them familiar to a new facility in their community. After eight session the participants will receive a Preliminary Award from Boxing Awards.”

Flourish Further Education is delivered by FACE – Knowsley Council’s adult education provider – and is funded through the government Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).