Helping drop-out teens make grade

Sheffield Youth Achievment Foundation'Schools Officer PC Michelle Payne with some of the youths at the centre
Sheffield Youth Achievment Foundation'Schools Officer PC Michelle Payne with some of the youths at the centre
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A CHARITY venture set up to teach Sheffield youngsters who have dropped out of mainstream schooling has proved a storming success - helping more than nine out of 10 pupils into work or college in its first year.

Sheffield Youth Achievement Foundation was initially based in a youth club on Maltravers Road, Wybourn, but has now moved to the Riverside Centre, formerly Grimesthorpe Primary School, on Earl Marshall Road.

In its first year, which ended last summer, the foundation taught 21 youngsters, 17 of whom are now at college, one on a training course and another in a job. Just two are not in education, employment or training - a leavers’ record many schools would be proud of.

Most young people taught at the foundation would normally have been in Year 11 at a conventional school and preparing to sit GCSEs but are not in mainstream education for a variety of reasons.

Patrick Callingham, head of Sheffield Youth Achievement Foundation, run by educational charity Endeavour, said: “Young people are referred to us by education officials and are those for whom mainstream education hasn’t worked and who need a second chance, or others who are new to the city or country.”

Patrick, a former Abbbeydale Grange humanities teacher who is also Territorial Army major and has served in Afghanistan, added: “Staff have to be part teachers, part social workers, part mentors and part role models.”

Young people are asked to attend five days a week, between 9.15am and 3.15pm.

But class sizes are much smaller than a mainstream school, with one teacher for every five pupils, to provide more intensive support. There are also volunteer mentors and the curriculum is different.

Patrick said: “We work with a charity called the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network, which provides more informal qualifications than GCSEs but they are accepted by colleges.

“It is difficult putting many of our young people through GCSEs because of the coursework and syllabus requirements if they have missed so much school.

“The alternative qualifications focus on key skills such as working with others and problem-solving. People come in to take lessons such as police officers, and take the young people out for activities such as working with community foresters.”

Maths and English are compulsory and those deemed capable of GCSEs are entered for them.