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Reading College partners with Hobbycraft Reading and The MERL to sell SEND students’ artwork

Greetings cards designed by Lifeskills students now available to buy at two more locations in Reading.

05 July 2019

Students at Activate Learning’s award-winning Lifeskills faculty are expanding further into greetings card retail through partnerships with Hobbycraft Reading and The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL).   

The partnership with The MERL at the University of Reading will see a series of six, brightly coloured farm animal postcards sold at the museum shop, and Hobbycraft Reading are selling students’ mostly abstract designs. All are created, photographed and packaged by learners to an exceedingly high standard, making them undisguisable from mass-marketed or professionally designed cards. Any profits are ploughed back into Reading College’s SEND (special educational needs and disability) provision, and cards area also available at Woodley Wool and at Reading College.    

Activate Learning believes that all students should be given the opportunity to experience the world of work, and SEND learners are given real-life employment opportunities through college-based learning companies, offsite work placements or through supported internships.   

Some of the skills for living students involved in the creation of the farmyard animal designs described the experience as making them feel “happy.” One of the photography group said: “I’m proud of what we all did together, we worked as a team to get all of it done.”   

Managers Ela Gimel and Adrian Wright at Hobbycraft Reading supported Reading College with this initiative.

Ela says: “We are very pleased to be able to give the students this opportunity to share their fabulous designs with a wider audience.” 

Learning Support Assistant Sharon Turner added that the project “Gives the students the thrill of selling something that they have produced.” 

The MERL’s Learning and Engagement Manager, Phillippa Heath, said: “The MERL is delighted to be selling the wonderful postcards produced by Activate Learning students. We are thrilled to have worked on many different projects in collaboration with Reading College’s SEND students and, through our Supported Work Placement programme, students have been involved in many different aspects of the museum’s work. This recent project, with farmyard animals as its inspiration, is so appropriate for our museum and the products will make a fantastic (and I am sure very popular) addition to The MERL shop.” 

Reading College Tutor Qian Chen added: “We are really proud of all of the students.”  

Activate Learning’s SEND teaching provision has been recognised nationally with the 2019 Association of Colleges Beacon Award for Support for Students, and more recently was the winner in the Education and Business Partnership category at the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Awards.