Rebecca Marshall recalls: "I was worried about the change for him
as he had been attending the Percy Hedley School since he was tiny,
but he was looking forward to working with the animals at
The Inspire course at
Northumberland College's Foundation Academy is designed with young
people like Lewis in mind.
It is for students who
have an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan), ASC (Autistic
Spectrum Condition), moderate and or mild learning difficulties. It
provides them with teachers and support staff who can work with
them in safe and practical environments to build and develop
personal and social skills.
Collage has invested in a specially-built classroom at its Kirkley
Hall Campus - where there is already horticulture, a farm, equine
and outdoor pursuit centres - and has employed a dedicated course
team leader for the new Inspire courses.
programme was introduced in response to requests by parents to help
their sons and daughters make the transition into the world of work
and independent living.
is one of nine students - seven boys and two girls - on the initial
first year of the Inspire entry level and level 1 courses, which
concentrate on horticulture in Kirkley Hall's gardens and on animal
care at the centre's zoo. The students, aged 16 to 20, come from
all over Northumberland, with one learner from Berwick who stays in
halls of residence. A 16-year-old could be on Inspire for two
years, which would prepare them for progression to a Level 1 course
of the programmes, students learn key softer employability skills,
including team work, how to travel, handle money, and communicate
with members of the public.
will be developing solving problems, healthy living, effective
communication, independent living skills, personal presentation and
travel training,'' explains specialist lead Karl Rathmell. "All
those skills that local employers want out of someone, particularly
with our learners with moderate learning difficulties who need to
learners are set personal and academic targets and maths and
English are also embedded into each Inspire course, which still
remains flexible and tailored to meet the needs of the individual
very much a course that's cut to fit the learner, so we are not
setting a learner up to fail,'' adds Karl. "We have a dedicated
support team that nurtures and supports in the classroom and during
practical and academic activities. So, someone with an EHCP, for
example, will have a support worker that is designated to work with
them, either on a one-to-one basis or a one-to-two basis. We also
work closely with external professional agencies.''
college has always offered entry level and level 1 courses, but
this is the first time they have been available over five days a
week - a crucial difference for learners and their
brand, spanking new course and it's five days a week, which is a
magnificent bonus because most college courses are only three
days,'' says Karl.
Rebecca Marshall the fact that inspire provides education for five
days a week was crucial.
says: "Lewis is so hard to stimulate. If he was just doing three
days a week, he'd just be sitting around doing
Lewis is taking Inspire in his stride.
"He seems to have settled
in really well,'' says Rebecca. "He's adapted well because of the
support he's had and he loves working with animals and he gets on
well with his peers.''
just six months the Inspire course is also making a difference to
the other students.
been very successful,'' says Karl. "One of the things we do with
the Inspire group is to enable the learner to build in their own
coping mechanisms and strategies and we've made some massive
progression with our learners with their confidence and
seen massive changes in our learners academically and we've seen
some incredible changes in individuals. We've got students who
weren't keen to present information in front of even a small class
who are now quite happy to read out the work they've completed and
join group discussions and that's an enormous move forwards for
some of our learners.
also have individuals who struggled with working together with
others but are now happy to work as part of a team. Socially, they
are making friends, not just within their peer but also with other
students at the college.''
he adds, is improving their employability skills and preparing them
to go on to do other courses at Kirkley Hall."
College intends to build on the success of Inspire with additional
courses in the core vocational areas of hair & beauty,
catering, sport, travel and tourism to be added to the curriculum
in 2017/18. Karl believes that Inspire could be expanded to take
between 25 and 30 students.
says: "Hopefully, we will be an inspiration for other colleges to
go forward with this model.''
out more and apply for September 2017 visit www.northumberland.ac.uk