Activate Learning’s Reading College will be opening its doors to schools, businesses and other education providers to showcase how they can better work together to provide opportunities for students with special educational needs and disabilities.
The event, which takes place on 24 June, has been organised as part of our commitment to showcase the work we do following our win at the prestigious Association of College’s Beacon Awards where Activate Learning won in the support for students category.
The award, which was presented at an event in London on 22 March, recognised the work across Activate Learning’s colleges in Reading, Oxford and Banbury, where we work with partners to improve life chances and create sustainable job opportunities for students with learning difficulties or disabilities. Since launching in 2013, the programme has supported over 1500 Berkshire and Oxfordshire SEND learners with work experience.
SEND students gain real life work experience either on campus at a college-run learning company, at an off-site work placement or on an external supported internship programme working towards a paid position.
Workshop attendees, including representatives from schools, colleges, businesses and the public sector, will get the chance to meet students, discuss project aims and outcomes and see the learning companies in action during the day-long event.
One former Reading College student, Rachel Carey, was assisted by Activate Learning, supported employment initiative Project SEARCH and the NHS to take up a part-time, paid position in the busy A&E department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
With the encouragement of tutors and colleagues, Rachel lost 5 stones to become healthier and more mobile, gained confidence, and undertook the work experience she needed to secure her ward assistant role.
Rachel says that having a job means “Everything. Like helping my mum out with paying rent, doing shopping and hopefully (means I can) go travelling in the future”. Her advice to other learners is to “never give up on your dreams, keep trying.”
Reading College SEND learners are now in the second year of a ground-breaking initiative with Reading Borough Council, providing a part-time (supervised) staff service at the small but much-loved library Palmer Park library, reducing running costs for the service.
Industry partners, who shape and co-deliver learning progammes, benefit through better recruitment and staff development opportunities. Organisations that take on a supported intern often report decreased absenteeism and greater job satisfaction among employees who work with SEND learners.
Stakeholders with an interest in SEND provision can book a free place at the event here