An Enterprise Skills Fair to show local employers what young people with learning difficulties can do

Students at Newman Special School organised an Enterprise Skills Fair to show local employers what they could do. The strap line of the event was - Employ me!!

Students at Newman Special School worked with a local business owner to show local employers the unique skills they have to offer the labour market. The students showcased their skills at Newman’s end of term ‘Enterprise Skills Fair’. 

Students from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 5 were involved in different ways, including making and selling hand crafted products, arranging games and serving refreshments to parents, carers and siblings. Students produced their own marketing, considered everyone’s role, planned their stall and displays and handled money at the event.  Engagement and independence skills were at the top of the agenda on the day while staff took a step back and let students lead wherever possible. Everyone who attended was very impressed and these are just a couple of comments made by parents/carers – Carole said 'There is a wonderful array of handmade goods. I was impressed with a student using his talker to sell candles' and Marie commented upon how 'Lovely and well set out the event was and everyone looked happy' She went on to say that 'this event shows what the kids are capable of'.

As a member of The Enterprise Adviser Network the school is aiming to deliver more enterprise throughout school and has been linked with a local business owner, Charlotte Scothern from ‘Patchwork Pig’ in Rotherham, in order to review, grow and improve careers and enterprise provision. As a local retailer Charlotte will be advising students on enterprise and business and providing a work experience opportunity for Newman students. This exciting partnership is part of a national programme – The Enterprise Adviser Network, launched by the Careers and Enterprise Company – which exists to prepare students for work. Our priority is to immerse students in the real world of work whether that means bringing employers in or taking students out. At the event we invited employers, who currently come in to hold workshops for our world of work week, and publicly thanked them with a certificate and a student lead afternoon tea. Jane a HLTA said ‘that in doing this their special guests from our 'World of Work Week' could see the potential our students have and were greatly impressed by the skills they demonstrated during the event.’

As a special school, Newman sometimes struggles to place students in work experience due to a lack of understanding about SEND and anxiety about the resource and time it takes to provide opportunities for SEND students. Through an event like the ‘Enterprise Skills Summer Fair’ we hope to showcase what our students ‘can do’ and the qualities and aptitudes which make them caring, diligent and hard-working young people. For example, simple repetitive tasks that many young people would find boring would be just the sort of task a student with a special educational need could take on and thrive at.  

Our aim for the coming academic year is to work with the Enterprise Adviser Network and other special schools in Rotherham to raise awareness about and promote students with special needs and how they would make excellent employees. Assistant headteacher Louise said ' The event really motivated students to design, make and sell their own products. The hall was bustling with people buying and students were able to demonstrate their skills to parents and carers. The responsibility of running their own stall became clear and everyone stepped up!'


Try it

Taken from Special Schools and SEND Radar - 19 October 2016