At the start of the 2019/20 academic
year, Prior's Court introduced a new
approach to its post-16 educational
provision. Here, George Fox and Sara
Evans, our Education Leads for 16 to
25-year-olds, explain our vocational
streams approach and the impact it has
had so far.
"A key element of Prior's Court's work is to prepare our
young people for life after they move on from us, ensuring
they have a pathway to adulthood and the chance to reach
their full potential.
"Among the many things this entails is having the skills to
find employment. Employment not only provides an income
source, but, perhaps just as importantly, a sense of purpose.
"There is clearly an 'autism employment gap' and the
restructuring of our post-16 education is part of our wider
strategy to help close this gap.
"As of September, we have introduced six 'vocational
streams' - Catering and Hospitality, Housekeeping, Trade
Skills, Business and Enterprise, Admin and Finance, and
Land-based (covering Horticulture and Animal Care).
"Each stream has a lead, support staff, and job coaches,
while some streams have vocational teachers to lead on-site
learning. The job coach role is designed to support young
people to access work experiences, work placements and
liaise with employers to ensure continuity and success.
"The vocational streams system is conducted in line with
accreditation and qualification pathways to demonstrate
employment skills. These are the Workright, Life Skills
Challenges and Employability programmes, all of which
are accredited by ASDAN. This is in conjunction with wider
personal and social development qualifications all young
people at Prior's Court work towards.
"At the age of 16, our young people are placed into two of
these steams based on their identified skillsets and interests.
They therefore have a longer period of time in which to
develop skills that are directly transferrable to employment
later in life.
"The changes made have been based on best practice for
people with severe learning difficulties and autism, and we
are already seeing positive results.
"We now have 19 external
organisations offering a
total of 56 work placements
to our young people. In
the Land-based stream, 25
of the 31 young people in
the stream are on external
work placements, more
than 80%, And in Business
and Enterprise, nine of the
13 students on the stream
are on a work placement
"Feedback from our work
placement partners has
been consistently positive,
both about the working
arrangement with us and the
quality of work of our young people.
"These placements not only strengthen the ties between
Prior's Court and the local community, it also breaks down
the barriers around autism. Our young people on these
placements become shining ambassadors for Prior's Court
and the abilities they possess. The enthusiasm and dedication
among our young people on placements should be celebrated
alongside the work of the teams supporting this work.
"We are in the early stages of our vocational streams
approach, on what we fully expect to be a long journey. But,
the signs so far are hugely encouraging."
To find out more about arranging work placements with Prior's Court,
contact Sara Evans on 01635 247202 Ext. 362 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our new approach to