Midlands Regional Action Group

Below, Jon Clugston, Vice Principal for Student Independence and Progression at Hereward College, provides an update on developments that have taken place at Hereward College in the two years they have been actively involved in the Midlands Regional Action Group.

Supported Internships (SI)
A number of education providers in the Midlands are now offering supported internships (SIs) to young people who are deemed to be “furthest away” from the job market. A SI is a yearlong academic study programme which is funded through the usual high needs education funding routes, but the learner will spend most, if not all of their time in a place of work. On the job support is provided by a qualified job coach – who in turn is funded through the Access to Work budget which is managed by the Department for Work and Pensions.

In the best examples, employers are using SIs as a route into permanent employment following the SI programme and nationally, SIs are achieving employment rates between 50 and 70%.

At Hereward, we currently have 10 learners on SI placements this year – at National Grid and the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and have agreements in place with three other local employers to extend the number of SIs to 20 for September 2016.

A SI is an attractive proposition for all parties – employers will see the business benefits of employing young people with disabilities, commissioners are attracted by the relative low cost of the programme and potentially good outcomes and the young people see this as a way into work.

Hereward’s offer
A number of developments have taken place at Hereward outside of the SI programme which are enabling young people to develop within the Transition Taskforce’s ‘pentagon of support’. These include:

  • Respite offer – the college is now able to offer respite and short breaks to disabled young people, which is proving to be an attractive proposition to many current and ex students
  • Curriculum – the college has developed a sensory curriculum offer for young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties in the past two years which is a new offer in response to requests from Local Authority (LA) Commissioners. In some cases, this offer is being combined with the respite offer above and in some LAs, places are being jointly funded by Health, Social Care and Education.
  • Independence offer – the college has been commissioned for the last two years by Oxfordshire LA to deliver two week long independence training stays for young people who would not normally get the opportunity to spend the time away from home.