Providing our young people with the skills, the experience and the opportunity to work is a key element of our approach– and offering the latter is something which starts on site.

Young people from across our Vocational Skills Area of Learning are engaged with meaningful work experience or work placements across site to practice the skills learnt in the classroom, with more opportunities being added during Term 1 of the 2021/22 academic year.

Within the Vocational Skills Area of Learning, we have seven programmes of learning with young people accessing specific programmes according to their individual skills and interests, as part of their pathway to work.

Young people’s range of work experiences or work placements currently include:

  • Business Studies
    • Delivery of parcels and Bread & Beyond goods to locations across site
    • Consumables packing of items in the Resources stores, to respond to requests for items form our residential homes
    • Supporting the Prior’s Court Resources team with stock counting
  • Housekeeping
    • Hotel turndown-style servicing of our on-site Parent Flat
    • Hoovering our Lower School corridors and classrooms
    • Stock replenishment of cupboards containing cleaning resources
    • Supporting our Housekeeping team with cleaning of items in our laundry room
  • Trade Skills
    • Actioning maintenance jobs tickets logged by staff members, such as painting rooms or building flat-pack furniture
    • A car wash service
  • Land-based
    • Nurturing and growing our apple orchard through tasks such as laying down compost and tree guard maintenance
    • Animal care of our livestock in the Countryside Learning Centre

Vocational skills learning is a vital aspect of our post-16 provision, as only 32% of autistic adults are believed to be in paid employment. One of our key ambitions for all our young people is to have the skills to be able to enter the world of work.

Overall, currently 23 young people are engaged in work experiences on-site each week, and 13 are on work placements. This is in addition to 10 young people travelling off-site weekly for work placements.

Sara Evans, Post-16 Education Lead, said:

Work experience and work placements are vital for our young people to be able to generalise the skills learnt in the classroom, paving the way for using them in workplaces in the future. But they also provide opportunities to learn other skills such as appropriate social interactions. We work with a number of third-party organisations in the West Berkshire and South Oxfordshire areas which provide work placements, but there are also a huge number of opportunities on our own site which can be explored. This is something the pandemic has actually helped with by turning our focus inward when visits off-site were too risky. Furthermore, we feel by showing on-site what our young people can do vocationally, it gives our third-party partners confidence around providing us with opportunities for our young people. We are immensely proud of what our young people are achieving in tasks which are of genuine importance to Prior’s Court as an organisation.

Any third parties who are interested in offering external work placements can contact Nickie Dunphy, Careers Lead/ Job Coach Co-ordinator for an informal chat on 07720 212600 or [email protected].

Read more about our approach to vocational learning.