Selly Oak Trust School

Selly Oak Trust School

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Since 2014, Central England Co-operative and Selly Oak Trust School have developed a unique partnership that has enabled all of our sixth form students to take part in purposeful work placements.

Central England Co-operative have provided high quality work experience placements, Journey to a Job & CV master classes, Floristry master classes and Mock-Interview practice which have had a huge impact on the personal confidences of many of our students.

"I enjoyed my work experience at the Co-Op in Northfield.  I learned how to work on the tills and had a few attempts to practise. This helped my confidence and I developed lots of skills needed for the workplace. Thank you for giving me this opportunity."

 

The skills they get to practice in a real life context in store have transferred well into their school and home life, with noticeable differences in their self-esteem when facing new challenges in and out of school. The CV master classes and mock interviews have given them realistic and genuine opportunities to practice interview techniques and focus on what employers want. We hope to monitor the impact of the whole project ultimately on future employability success.

"I really enjoyed doing work experience for the Co-Op, it was really enjoyable and I would really love to do work experience with them again.  I made a really good friend named Roy who really helped me figure out what I needed to do.  He was really kind, really social and one of the most awesome people who I met at the Co-Op."

Our ultimate goal is to achieve regular, purposeful, genuine work experience opportunities for our young people in Year 12-14 over the whole academic year. Within this we aim to pursue opportunities for paid work, supported internships or longer voluntary placements where available for students. Through working closely with local convenience stores we are also keen to widen our community outreach and therefore build a strong social partnership.

The work experience has empowered many of our young people with a range of skills that will ultimately secure them paid part or full-time work. A range of experiences supported by an array of professionals will ensure our students get the best possible real-life experience of the working world. Our students need longer to process concepts, build relationships and practice skills before they feel confident enough to do things independently.

"I loved the work experience, it was brilliant.  I was at the Northfield store.  It wasn’t easy doing the jobs that we were given especially putting things in date order on the shelves. The colleagues who I was working with helped me to achieve; they helped with my confidence and I felt very proud of myself at the end of the two days."

Understanding, compassionate and patient staff in work placements, such as the Co-op stores in Cotteridge, Stirchley and Northfield, have provided a supportive and understanding environment for our students to flourish as well as benefitting Co-op employees by allowing them to adapt their skill sets to meet the needs of young people with learning difficulties. As a school we see their confidence boosted and quality experiences in real life contexts giving them chance to practice skills, make mistakes and learn from them in a supported environment.

"I rather enjoyed my work experience and I think I gained a lot of new skills plus I was able to transfer my skills from my voluntary work at the charity shop to my work at the Co-Op."

For many of our students, higher education (colleges) provides opportunities to explore skills and qualifications school does not currently offer in areas they have personal interests or future career desires. It also allows many of them more time to develop skills for functioning in daily life, embedding the skills for life alongside a growing maturity.

"I didn’t go to the Co-op last year because I felt nervous about going.  After I heard all of my mates talking about it I decided I would like to have a go this year. I really enjoyed it.

I learned how to use the till, how to scan items and I liked speaking to the customers.  I am glad I did the work experience and I felt proud of my achievement."

For some, a paid job would be the perfect next step as they are ready to work and be more financially independent. The work experience with Central England Co-operative allows for valuable ‘hours on the floor’ experience  that they would not otherwise have when applying for a job fresh out of college so can assist in securing a job for some of our students who are ready to work. The next phase of Work Placements and Journey to a Job training began in October 2015 and is proving to be very popular and successful yet again! Since September 40 students have successfully completed SENse to Aspire in our three local stores and some will be returning for a longer placement as we build on the success of working with a local, national business!!