Fairmead is a home from home for our students, many of whom come to us after unsuccessful attempts to settle into mainstream schools. For parents and carers too we are often the light at the end of a long and dark tunnel.
So when the time comes to start thinking about where to go after Fairmead, anxieties and uncertainties about choosing a new provision are to be expected. To help make the process seem a little less confusing and daunting Head of Sixth Form Ben Crump teamed up with Careers South West Advisor Jackie Martin to bring educational providers and parents together for an afternoon.
The transition event last Wednesday saw representatives from twelve different educational or community providers, set up their stalls in the sixth form and welcome in parents for an informal chat.
Elaine Morrissey from Train For All offers practical advice to students seeking apprenticeships. She said: ‘It is great to have this open day because trying to pick a career when you are a kid is just horrendous whether you have special educational needs or not, the worries seem to be the same for everyone.
Because I advise on apprenticeships, the young people who come to me have to be almost ready to start a work placement. This has been a good chance to talk to young people and parents/carers about working towards getting them into full time jobs’.
Shaun France is the Curriculum Area Manager and Additional Learning Support Manager at Yeovil College. He also found the transition event useful: ‘It is good to show the students their options, and sometimes having those conversations about what is possible and what is not is really tough. But actually we have to say what is and isn’t going to be a reality for them and then work out how close we can get to their ideal. It is hard to work that out on the spot here, but we can at least start the process of exploring that’.
Mandie Holloway who is Head of Equality and Diversity at Strode College was pleased with the turn out from both providers and parents. She said: ‘It has been a good opportunity to network because we all have an idea of each other but rarely or never meet up. It has been useful hearing the ideas parents have for their son or daughter and then having them endorsed by an independent person, like Jackie for example, instead of just myself’.
Steve Baker from Somerset Rural Youth Project is a good example of a community based provision. He explained that he runs courses in blocks post GCSE or just during the school holidays. The blocks build upon each other to create meaningful experiences and develop skills sets. Steve explained: ‘In the summer we run a four week programme. In the first week we do lots of outdoors adventure stuff like mountain biking and camping on Exmoor. Week two we look at skills for independent living and start thinking about interview skills. Week three and four we plan and run a community project. We usually have groups of about 15 and we are based in a village called Eddington, near Bridgwater’.
Parent Nick Beecham gave his views before leaving: ‘It has definitely been very useful and opened up some possibilities for us. It was good speaking to people like Jackie because she helped point us in the right direction so that we can help our daughter make the right choices for her. We are happy with what we have got out of today and the people we have spoken to’.