Future First pilot Special Educational Needs alumni workshop

At Future First, we have begun working with a small number of special schools and students with special educational needs and disabilities, furthering our vision to see a world in which a young person’s start in life does not limit their future. In 2017/18 only 8.3% of young people with a statement or EHC plan accessed higher education and only 6% of adults with learning disabilities, were in paid employment.1 Providing students in special schools with access to relatable role models from the world of work can support young people to access additional opportunities after school broadening horizons, raising their aspirations and supporting them to make more informed decisions about their next steps.

As our work with special schools is new the delivery of our first SEND workshop at Southfield School on 25th June felt like a really proud day, and a great opportunity to learn. ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ is a workshop I designed alongside the invaluable help of my fellow Alumni Programme Officers, Emily, Danny and Davy. I was excited to see how it would pan out, and a little nervous as the content was brand new! It was wonderful to have Emily along to co-facilitate, and we both had a great time delivering the workshops to a group of very engaged students.

The workshop helps post 16 students in special schools prepare for the transition after leaving school. As part of the session students explored the different pathways available to them after school and had an opportunity to develop their communication, decision making and problem-solving skills through role playing everyday scenarios. The students responded brilliantly to the activities. Taking an interactive approach by including drama games and role play of real life scenarios worked really well and created a happy and inclusive atmosphere.

The workshops were co-delivered by two wonderful alumni volunteers, Liam and Michael, from Mind the Gap, a Performing Arts studio for people with Disabilities. Developing a relationship with Mind the Gap was crucial to the success of the workshops, and I am glad that I got to know this organisation in the process and see first-hand some of the brilliant work they are doing in Bradford. Students and teachers alike were excited to see the former students, and with Liam being a celebrity, a few autographs were requested! The day ended with a big assembly Q&A where Michael and Liam gave lots of great advice to Southfield students.

Organising, designing and delivering these workshops was a big step in our progress towards our offer to SEND schools, and we are all very excited to see how this programme develops.