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Abbey Hill Academy, Stockton-on-Tees

About the activity

Students who have complex and additional needs and severe learning difficulties (SLD) are hard to find meaningful work placements for.

David’s SEN designation is SLD.  Over the past few months he has had a bespoke work experience programme devised for him (as do all of the students who would find traditional work placements a challenge.)

Initially he took part in our in-house Introduction to Enterprise Group.  During this session the students make goods to sell at the Stockton Sparkles Christmas Market and from North Tees Hospital’s Enterprise Cart.

David proved himself to be able to deal with customers in a polite and courteous manner.  Consequently, following a discussion with our CEIAG team, David requested a further placement in the sector. David then completed five days working for Marks and Spencer in Stockton as a Customer Service Assistant, which required him to help customers, answer customer queries and stock and arrange the shop floor.  The whole experience was deemed a success and there was favourable feedback from the manager.

Going forward David has applied for a course in Introduction to the Hospitality Industry at Stockton Riverside College, and hopes to gain meaningful employment in the sector after his time there.

Gatsby Benchmarks

Gatsby benchmark 5 – Every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.

Gatsby benchmark 6 – Every pupil should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities, and expand their networks.

Next steps

  • Due to David’s positive experience, we have been able to place other students with the same company.

David said that….

I had a very positive experience when I did my work placement at Marks & Spencer. I gained in confidence as I was helping customers and speaking to them. I became very approachable and not as shy as I can be. I started to understand about respecting others.

Steve – Careers Teacher

Throughout David’s work placement I have seen his confidence grow and this has had an impact in the classroom. David appears more motivated and enthusiastic in lessons. David was able to tell the rest of his class about his experiences, something David would not have done. David has an insight into what his next pathway will be. Hopefully, David will achieve his aspiration.

Nicola – Work Experience Support HLTA

Prior to beginning his placement David set himself three targets, including increasing confidence, learning new skills and becoming more talkative. Initially David was quite subdued and quiet, requiring a substantial level of support however, as the week went on, David became more confident, independent and eager to work using his own initiative. David was able to communicate with staff and customers, answering queries when necessary. Feedback and comments made by staff were all positive and encouraging towards David. The work placements have had a positive effect on David, showing an increase in his confidence both towards his work and towards himself.

Marks and Spencer

David has shown that with determination he has grown in confidence. David really enjoyed his experience gaining in the following:

People skills: working in a team and presentation skills;

Thinking skills: problem solving and adaptability;

Positive attitudes: persistence and motivation, and wanting to learn.

Overall, David had a fantastic time on his placement and it was a real pleasure to see him grow and develop as an employee over a short space of time.