The last surviving British member of the Dambusters raid, Squadron Leader George “Johnny” Johnson MBE, DFM, has officially opened a new education centre for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Set up by the Specialist Education Support Network (SESN), the George Johnson Education Centre on Weaver Road in Lincoln is aimed at children aged 14 to 16 who are struggling to cope or have been excluded from mainstream education.
As well as the centre on Weaver Road, the organisation also has several satellite provisions including a vocational training facility at building firm Gelder Group’s premises at Sturton by Stow.
SESN Founder and CEO Richard Bell said: “I’d spent many years working in mainstream education and felt frustrated at the number of children who were struggling to conform or being excluded altogether with little alternative opportunities.
“The George Johnson Education Centre will allow us to provide these young people with an inclusive educational environment where their needs are met, and they feel a sense of belonging.
“We’ll also be working with a number of local employers, such as Gelder Group and Just Audi VW, to allow our students to build on additional skill sets.”
In peacetime Johnny Johnson, who was born in Lincolnshire in 1921, taught people with learning difficulties and later developed pioneering programmes in mental health rehabilitation at Rampton and Balderton hospitals.
Speaking at today’s launch he said: “I am privileged and honoured in every way to have the centre named after me. The work I’ve done during my lifetime with people with mental health problems has been hugely rewarding and the centre is an extension of that.
“Young people with emotional or behavioural problems often get overlooked so this is a wonderful opportunity for students to get the education and support they need to help them reach their full potential.
“It’s unfortunate that it has taken so long to get a facility like this but I’m sure Richard and the team will get the same satisfaction from working with these young people as I did, and I wish them all the best for the future.”