The achievements of a young adult with special educational needs who has secured himself an internship at Chesterfield Royal Hospital – plus an aspiring female electrician engineer – were recognised at an event held to celebrate businesses and educators who have worked together to support hundreds of students in Derbyshire.
The Derbyshire North Careers Hub brings local employers together to work with schools and colleges to support their careers programmes which enable students to choose what they would like to do next, while also ensuring school and college leavers have the skills needed by employers in the region.
Part of a national programme funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company and the Department for Education – and managed locally by D2N2 LEP – the Derbyshire North Careers Hub works with more than 30 schools and colleges as students prepare for their best next steps.
The event, which was held at The Whitworth in Darley Dale, was the first face-to-face meeting the Hub has had since being launched pre-lockdown in February 2020. Students from The Highfields School in Matlock supported on the day.
Building for success
Eighteen-year-old Jamie, a pupil at Alfreton Park Community Special School, gained valuable work experience with the Woodhead Group; a family-owned group of companies specialising in construction.
He was one of four pupils from the school who took part in a seven-week Supported Insight Scheme, through the Direct Education Business Partnership and part funded by the Careers Hub, shadowing core areas of the business, visiting sites being developed by the Woodhead Group and spending time in their head office in Edwinstowe, Mansfield where they were involved in real-life work place tasks such as keeping the building site safe and even brick laying.
Sarah Cutler is programme manager for Direct Education Business Partnership’s special educational needs programmes, supporting various SEND schools in the Derbyshire North Careers Hub. She worked closely with Alfreton Park Community Special School and Woodhead Group.
“Jamie has been a pupil at Alfreton Park since the age of four and, by his own admission, 14 years later, he feels that he needs a change to help with his personal development and wellbeing,” said Sarah.
“He flourished under the guidance of Matt Bust at Woodhead Group, who are one of our Cornerstone group employers and huge supporters of the project. The work experience helped him to gain the confidence he needed to gain a place on an internship at Chesterfield Royal Hospital which, hopefully, can be transferred into paid employment in 12 months’ time.
“On average, the percentage of young people with a Learning Disability in the D2N2 area that is in employment is 1.8%. We need to increase this figure by providing opportunities for these people and working together.
“This figure will increase – it won’t happen overnight – if we continue to do what we are doing.”
As well as being Business Support Manager at Woodhead Group, Matt Bust is an Enterprise Advisor for The Bolsover School – which provided musical entertainment at the event. He said: “We structured each session for the students, and they took part in various tasks that are all relevant to our business.
“We noticed how they had grown and developed throughout the programme. It was a pilot programme, so we had no idea how it would be received, and we had to have flexibility when delivering the project to overcome issues such as covid and transport.
“But it was a huge success and we learned so much from the programme.”
As well as construction, other industries represented in the Careers Hub include healthcare and engineering. Projects that have been funded include Future Makers, Creators, Designers and Builders which brings together a local group of companies from those sectors. Students are given the opportunity to learn about the careers in these industries, plus the pathways into them.
Emma Dando, careers lead at St Mary’s Catholic High School in Chesterfield, praised the Future Makers scheme, which has played a key role in launching the career of pupil Millie Liversedge.
Millie was mentored by Katie Burnham, who works for construction and property development company Henry Boot.
“I am absolutely delighted for Millie,” she said, “she will leave St Mary’s at the end of Year 12 to take up an apprenticeship with Western Power which, for Millie, is a dream job.
“The Future Makers project gave her the confidence to interview for the apprenticeship and this is definitely the right career path for her.”
The Derbyshire North Careers Hub is part of a national network of hubs, driven by the Careers & Enterprise Company. Evidence published by the company in October last year showed Career Hubs had accelerated overall careers education progress and performance by 56% in 12 months.
When it launched, the Hub worked with 21 schools and colleges but has expanded and now supports 35 schools and colleges. During lockdown, employers found innovative ways to continue working with schools, holding virtual events and sessions so that students could be supported in choosing their next step after education.
One of those employers, Fortem, delivered an interactive workshop during this time to Ashgate Croft – the first time that the property solutions experts have worked with a special school.
Marie Cooper, Group CEO of CBE+, explained the impact of the Cornerstone group of employers; a group of flagship businesses – including Fortem – carrying out exemplary work to support schools and colleges to develop careers programmes and then sharing their best practice with others.
She said: “If we don’t engage as businesses in educating and inspiring the young people in Derbyshire, then who is going to be running these businesses in the future?
“The only way we can do that powerfully is to collaborate; collaborate as companies, education partners, schools and colleges.
“There are some businesses, responsible businesses in Derbyshire, but there are some that need educating. I hear that they haven’t got the resources or they’re too busy to do this; but there is so much support out there for those of all levels.”
Lana Jay, Strategic Careers Hub Lead at D2N2, added: “It was great to celebrate the amazing work that is happening across the Derbyshire North Careers Hub.
“Since our launch, we have developed stronger relationships with schools and colleges we support, and we have increased engagement with businesses in the local area and strengthened our local authority and partner relationships.
“This event was a chance to celebrate the successes and showcase some of those fantastic projects that have taken place.”