Discovery Club

The Columbus Discovery Club provides high quality social and play opportunities for children and young people aged 3-19 years with profound and multiple learning difficulties, Autism, complex health needs and life-limiting conditions. We provide a vital lifeline for families and carers and a place where children can develop, learn and have fun in a safe and friendly environment that caters for their special needs.

Operated by Columbus School and College in Chelmsford, our services include a holiday club, after school club, youth club and weekend club. All our clubs operate from our School and College campuses. This allows us to take advantage of the first class state-of-the-art facilities available for disabled children and young people including hydrotherapy pools, sensory rooms and special needs equipment for those with profound and multiple disabilities.

We offer a wide range of in-house activities including swimming, sensory play, physical therapy, arts and crafts, cooking and sporting activities, as well as many days and nights out to local and national attractions, including zoos, water parks, activity centres, cinemas, restaurants, theatres and theme parks.

For more information about Discovery Club Youth Club, After School Club, Saturday Club or Holiday Club please contact Sarah Lambert Discovery Club Manager on 01245 291492 / 07531846988 or email


The Discovery Club was formed in 2009, with funding from the Essex County Council “Aiming High for Disabled Children” programme. A group of parents and the Principal at Columbus School and College recognised the shortfall in good quality child care provision for children and young people with special needs as well as the desperate need for respite care for parents during the school holidays and after school. Together we began to address the need for brighter opportunities for children, young people and their families.

The Discovery Club is managed by a Voluntary Management Committee consisting of parents with first-hand experience of the challenges facing families and other interested parties, the Principal of Columbus School and College, an “Outstanding” special needs school and college, and the Chair of Governors. A Manager is employed to co-ordinate the clubs, ensure smooth day-to-day running, and raise funds and awareness of all the activities. A play leader is employed at each club session to lead a team of qualified play workers, all of whom are employed by Columbus in delivering the services to families.


Disabled children have the same needs as other children. They value sport, social and youth activities in just the same way as their peers from a mainstream setting. Such activities are an essential part of a child’s development. However, disabled children and their families face substantial barriers to participation, leading to loneliness and isolation. In turn, this can slow development and limit their capacity to take part in everyday activities.

Profound and multiple learning disabilities blight young lives and can put great stress on the family unit. By providing a range of social leisure activities, we help relieve family pressures by providing much needed respite time and a framework of support. The “ME TIME” allows parent and carers time alone or time with their other children who often miss out. It can also help reduce a need for residential care, thus keeping the family unit together.

Essex County Council continues to fund the Columbus Discovery Club through the ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children’ grant programme. Without their support we would not be able to offer our services and we are grateful for this partnership support.


Holiday Club

We operate during all school holidays (excluding Bank Holidays) between the hours of 9.30am to 3.30pm. Activities include swimming, sporting activities, cooking, arts and crafts, dance, as well as many day trips to local and national attractions. Cost £30 - £50 (depending on activity) per day.

Holiday Club (PMLD)

We run our Holiday Club, during all school holidays, between the hours of 9.30am to 3.30pm for children with severe and complex medical needs and life-limiting conditions. The children and young people are offered a range of activities, including swimming, sensory play and therapies, plus short trips depending on the wellbeing of the children. Cost per day is £30 - £40 .

After School Club

This club operates weekly, during term time, from 3.30pm to 6.00pm for children aged 10 to 16 years. A combination of school-based activities, including swimming, sensory play, sporting activities, cooking, arts and crafts and trips to local restaurants and attractions take place throughout the year. Cost per session is £10.

Youth Club

This club operates every Thursday evening from 6pm to 9pm during term time for young adults aged 16-19 years. A combination of hall-based activities including cooking, Karaoke, games and quiz nights, discos, sporting activities (including football and table tennis), bowling and trips to the cinema, theatres and local restaurants. Cost per evening is £10.

Saturday Club

This group operates every Saturday during term time from 1.30pm to 4.30pm for children aged 6-16 years. This is a wonderful chance for children to enjoy swimming, sensory sessions, ball park and play opportunities in a safe and caring environment. Parents or carers need to stay with their children at these sessions. Cost is £8 per child.