The Seabrook McKenzie Trust for Specific Learning Disabilities

Our vision: he ao e angitu ai te hunga e uaua ana te ako (a world where those with learning difficulties experience success)

Our mission: to support the education, employment, social development, legal rights and quality of life of people with Specific learning Disabilities.

Specific Learning Disabilities are defined as a neurological dysfunction affecting processing of information and interfering with the optimal development of a person, when the difficulties are not caused primarily by visual, hearing or motor impairment, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, environmental, economic, or cultural circumstances.

Our aim:
Our aim is to assist people with Specific Learning Disabilities and their families through direct provision of professional services, such as assessment, guidance, referral services and specialised tuition, and by fostering community awareness of Specific Learning Disabilities through training programmes, research and community education.

The overriding aim for all services offered through Seabrook McKenzie is to help the student (whether a child or an adult) to realise their potential and lead a fulfilling and productive life.

We are a Health and Disability service.

The Problem

Many children and teenagers with unrecognised Specific Learning Disabilities are referred to mental health services because their behaviours are not understood. Their frustration can lead to violence, self-harm, or depression. They are often bullied and ostracised by their peers. They can be labelled as “Silly, Lazy, and Dumb”. It has been suggested that many of the people in our prisons are the product of an education system that has failed to recognise their SLD. Others can experience life-long prejudice. Seabrook McKenzie provides a solution and hope for children with specific learning disabilities, helping to unlock a brighter future.

Our Background

The Seabrook McKenzie Centre is a Charitable Trust. It recieves no government funding. It is unique in our country and was established to meet the needs of children with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD).

The Centre was founded over 30 years ago by Dr Jean Seabrook, under the patronage of Sir Roy McKenzie. It offers a wide variety of innovative services for children and their families.

The Trust also delivers its services through the Jean Seabrook Memorial School, an on-site school. It was established in February 2005. It provides full time schooling for up to 24 students with severe learning disabilities.

How we achieve our aim

Children are referred to Seabrook McKenzie by health professionals, schools, child and youth mental health, and social services. The centre provides assessments for 600-700 children per year, and trains teachers in the teaching techniques needed to deliver specialised intervention. Between 250-300 children are currently receiving such tuition.

The Seabrook McKenzie Centre provides thorough and comprehensive assessment and intervention plans by a professional team lead by a Registered Psychologist. The Seabrook McKenzie Centre team of qualified professionals consists of psychologists, occupational therapists and specialist teachers. The Centre offers occupational therapy and may also provide counselling and parenting courses.

The Jean Seabrook Memorial School modifies classroom programmes to take students’ difficulties into account, and uses teaching methods that have been shown to be successful overseas. The results clearly show there is a beneficial effect for these children. They do not have to suffer in silence. We help them to understand and develop coping and learning skills that will allow them to move back into mainstream schooling.

We work with both the child and their family to help deal with social, emotional, and/or behavioural problems. And for each child, family, or adult, the approach is individual- there is no ‘one size fits all’ at Seabrook McKenzie, because there’s no ‘one size fits all’ for SLD.

Our Results

The Seabrook McKenzie Centre has often been described as the missing jigsaw piece for children and families who have unsuccessfully sought help elsewhere - knowing there was something not quite right.

The staff of the Centre work collaboratively and proactively with the whole family. Students in private tuition, the intensive programme and the Jean Seabrook Memorial School are formally retested to assess progress.

 “When I came to Seabrook I could only spell two words and had little hope of succeeding in the mainstream education system. I learnt that although my dyslexia made both reading and writing a struggle, it was only a disadvantage if I made it into one. I learnt that these drawbacks are manageable and the creative flair that accompanies dyslexia has the potential to turn it into an advantage if you believe in yourself.

I have recently completed a double degree in Arts and Law at Canterbury University and am about to start work as a Solicitor. These achievements would not have been possible without your help. Thank you for making all of this possible.”

~William (who attended in the 90s)