Hub launched at Sheffield school to support pupils at risk of exclusion

An alternative provision hub has been launched at secondary school in Sheffield to help support pupils who are at risk of exclusion.

By Alana Roberts
Thursday, 20 June, 2019, 07:24
(L-R) Front: Niall Bedell, Josef Pokuta, Tyler Ellis. Middle: MP Gill Furniss, Liam Middleton, AET Principal and Firth Park Governor Jo-Anne Charalambous, Senior Teaching Assistant Jenny Smallwood, Higher Level Teaching Assistant Helen Stocks. Back: Leader of Vocational Education Andy Dawtry, Principal Dean Jones and Julian Drinkall, CEO of AET

Firth Park Academy, in Shiregreen, launched The Workplace to support vulnerable and disengaged students, offering a wide range of life skills and career development routes.

Of the 49 students who have accessed The Workplace so far, 10 of those were excluded on a fixed-term basis the previous half term.

However, only two students have been excluded this half term, representing an 80 per cent reduction in exclusions.

Dean Jones, Principal at Firth Park Academy, said: "We want to inspire all of our students to lead remarkable lives, and to do so we need to recognise that not all lives and not all routes through education look the same.

“Some students may struggle in a traditional academic setting yet thrive in a practical, hands-on environment where they can develop skills for successful vocational futures.”

Depending on the student, those in need of extra support may learn at The Workplace full-time or as a mix of alternative provision and mainstream education.

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There are a range of social and work-based courses with everything from animal care, catering and construction through to hair and beauty.

Andrew Dawtry, a highly qualified specialist teacher with over 20 years’ experience, will manage The Workplace and will be supported by four Level 3 and Level 4 teaching assistants to deliver a ‘nurture programme’ tailored to each child’s specific needs.

Mr Dawtry, Leader of Vocational Education and Manager of The Workplace, said: “The Workplace is a new and exciting area of school which focuses on vocational education. Students are actively engaged in learning new skills which will support them in future learning and work.

“Students are taken out of their comfort zone as they attempt new activities encouraging teamwork, empathy, determination and resilience.”

Julian Drinkall, CEO of the Academies Enterprise Trust, said: “Our driving purpose is help young people to go on and lead remarkable lives. We want every single pupil in all our academies to discover what that means for themselves, and then feel equipped to follow that path.

“We have a moral duty to educate all the children in our care, and where there are students that would genuinely benefit from specialist education in an alternative provision environment, we want them to remain part of our family.

“The Workplace is the embodiment of that ambition. To establish hubs like this, you need talented and committed professionals who are in it for the long-term. I am so pleased that Firth Park has found that combination.”