It takes an extraordinary group of people to achieve extraordinary things and that’s just what the management team of MKSNAP (Milton Keynes Special Needs Advancement Project) have done. The charity provides Adults with special needs the environment, safety and care to develop their work based and personal skills so that they have the opportunity to become both independent and to pick up employment during this learning and development process. This week four key management team members were presented online with their Postgraduate Certificates in Leadership and Management by Professor Chris Kemp from Mind Over Matter Consultancy after a two-year journey which looked as if it would come to an end on March 23rd 2020. However, the team unwilling to capitulate under the most severe crisis in their lifetime integrated their workloads and a diet of socially distanced face to face classes with online learning and Zoom calls to complete their study.

Having to change their learning patterns and styles over this period is a tall order under any circumstances but when faced with the deaths of three learners, uncertainty over their future as well as a number of internal and external pressures, the team achieved extremely high marks for their work. This learning in the round programme ensures that those taking part are not just students but are also experts and facilitators themselves during the programme which creates a learning environment where each person contributes on these three levels. All assessment is in the workplace and the programme delivered outcomes which were essential to the team’s workplace strategies.

The initial modules contributed to the writing of the MKSNAP strategic plan and after the completion of the six modules tailored to the needs of the charity the team had covered, organisational development, change, decision making, problem solving, communications, leadership, management and the continuum from operational to strategic delivery. Throughout the programme the team delivered week after week and they developed enormously through the difficulties of the pandemic.

 The CEO Angela Novell, Stephanie Passfield, Steven Carruthers and Caroline French grew in personal and professional confidence. The team were going through their most difficult time when the programme touched on change and the team were never more aware of this element as the course dealt with this area as the Government, Public Health England and the Local Authority continued to be forced to move goalposts and to make new policy which changed the perspective of the charity sometimes on a day-to-day basis.

Chris Kemp, when reflection of the team’s performance said “This was an extraordinary cohort of amazing people which I will never forget. To see them struggle personally and professionally during the pandemic yet turn in some of the best work that I have ever marked was a testament to their resilience in a truly appalling time.”