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Abbey Hill Academy 6th Form Case Study

A group of students at Abbey Hill Sixth Form were showing a keen interest in basic carpentry and building skills.  Back in 2019 we requested funding to run a number of sessions with the Volunteer It Yourself (VIY).  Sadly the pandemic put pay to this plan, but as an alternative we decided to run a similar session but utilising staff from Abbey Hill and an ex-joiner.  The finance that would have paid for the VIY contract, enabled us to purchase the raw materials.

The project to transform an empty area of playground into an outdoor dining area, befitting a café commenced in May 2022, with the deadline the end of June to be ready to host the leavers’ barbeque.  Students who were keen to develop their practical, building skills were selected from across the Sixth Form Year 12 and Y13.  They worked on the project during options time each Friday afternoon.

The key skills that we hoped the students would develop further included:

  • Following Instructions
  • Using Tools safely and correctly
  • Following the Health and Safety procedures in the workshop.
  • Working accurately and to a deadline.
  • Working as part of a team.

Gatsby Benchmarks:

  1. Addressing the needs of each pupil – the project was open to all students from those student considered to have severe learning difficulties, to the most able who are accessing GCSEs. The activities were adapted so all of the students had equal access.
  2. Encounters with employers and employees – Having a sector employee – carpenter supporting the sessions enable students to ask questions about the industry, and he was able to share expertise, thus developing the students’ skills and knowledge.
  3. Experiences of workplaces – The Sixth Forms DT Room was converted into an authentic production line to simulate as closely as possible an authentic work place. The students worked then were given ‘tea’ breaks mid-session then were expected back to work


Around 25% of students attending the college and were able to access the sessions, took part in the scheme, both male and female – all with a variety of needs.  It gave the students, who have been most impacted by the pandemic in terms of work experience opportunities, the first opportunity to be involved in an authentic placement enhancing their practical skills and knowledge as well as learning about the sector.  Additionally, both staff and students involved enjoyed the experience – the cherry on top of the cake was that what they produced has enhanced the dining options for all of the students and staff at the Sixth Form.  Based on this experience one student has applied to study a pre vocational course Post 18 in a local tertiary college.