SENse to Aspire scheme

Posted by Katie Sohal | 18/03/2015 | Category: Community

Every young person, particularly those facing social disadvantage should receive support to enable them to build a successful working life. Central England Co-operative has created a pioneering initiative giving work experience opportunities to students with special educational needs.

Over the last two years Central England Co-operative and Selly Oak Trust School in Birmingham have developed a unique partnership that has enabled sixth form students to take part in purposeful work placements, with plans for phase two taking place in the first half of 2015.

The programme, called Sense to Aspire, has already seen an entire sixth form of 94 students take part in two-day work experience placements, empowering many to develop a new range of skills that will ultimately secure them paid part or full-time work, ensuring students get the best possible real-life experience of the working world.

Central England Co-operative have provided high quality placements, Journey to a Job & CV master classes, Floristry master classes and Mock-Interview practice, giving students a realistic and genuine opportunity to practice interview techniques and focus on what employers want, leaving a huge impact on the personal confidences of many of Selly Oak Trust School’s students.

"It's difficult for mainstream students," explained Maryann Denfhy, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Central England Co-operative, "but really difficult for children with learning or behavioural difficulties... We thought it was where we could add most value."
Working with the community provides an opportunity to explore skills and allows students to develop skills for functioning in daily life, embedding skills for life alongside a growing maturity. For some, a paid job would be the perfect next step, as some have shown they are ready for the world of work and ready to be more financially independent.
The Sense to Aspire programme allows for a ’valuable hours on the shop floor’ experience in a supportive and understanding environment for students to flourish, as well as benefitting Central England Co-operative employees, allowing them to adapt their skills by meeting the needs of young people with learning difficulties.

The next phase of Work Placements and Journey to a Job training begin in March 2015.