New £1m ‘Futures Centre’ project for Shrewsbury College and Severndale Specialist Academy

  • Date Published: Wednesday, 14 May 2014
  • Departments: Cross College,

Severndale Specialist Academy and Shrewsbury College have announced a new £1million project to bring a range of work related learning activities and the College experience to students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

The joint venture, the first of its kind in the UK, will give upto 80 students aged 16 – 25 extended learning and offer an exciting wealth of opportunities for them with valuable real-life work experience whilst learning in order to aid them to gain employment. 

The building will be based at London Road and building work starts Monday, May 12 with the project due for completion by January 2015. The students were involved in a consultation of the plans and had input into the design. The outdoor areas surrounding the building will be used for learning and recreation.

At the vocational learning centre, students will be taught by teachers and specialist tutors. Each workshop will have a different focus in order for the students to create produce set up enterprises including ceramics, jewellery, candle and soap making, textiles and printing.

There will also be a garden so students can grow a variety of organically grown produce for use in the catering kitchen and café that will be open to the general public on a daily basis. The menu will be developed by students and based on what they have grown both at the center and at Tickwood Farm Much Wenlock. The students will regularly attend farmer’s markets around the county to sell the produce they have grown and made in the workshops and catering kitchen.

New links will be developed with local employers with a view to providing work placements. 

Chris Davies, Principal at Severndale, said: “The project came about following a number of Severndale sixth form students accessing vocational courses at Shrewsbury College’s Radbrook and London Road sites which has been taking place over the course of the past two years. 

“In September 2012, they began with a small group of students in Motor Vehicle Maintenance, the original plans were for the students to complete an introduction to car valeting.

“However, it quickly became apparent that the students were flourishing in this new work related learning environment, and so the students quickly progressed.  This group of learners are now undertaking entry Level 3 qualifications in Motor Vehicle Maintenance and two of the students have used these skills to help them to find part-time work placements. 

“The idea came from this as the most organic progression for both the College and us to continue to grow the provision for the students as it was so successful.”

Principal of Shrewsbury College, Steve Wain, said: “This project is about breaking down barriers and will see these Shrewsbury College students with learning difficulties and disabilities, from a range of subject areas getting work experience and volunteer work and where possible qualifications.

“The students will mix across the College and be able to enjoy the ‘whole College experience’ accessing the new Learning Resource Centre, the student common room and the sports facilities. The courses will develop employability and independence skills with a range of vocational activity.”

The new provision will enable the students to have regular internal work experience and to learn more about the world of work and employment. 

Andrew Mitchell who is a student at Severndale and currently undertaking the Hair and Beauty course at Radbrook, said: “It’s good for me to be able to carry on my education with my friends and have a nice new place to go and learn in.  I’m currently doing hair and beauty at Radbrook. 

“We get to socialise with people outside of Severndale which helps our communication and interaction with others. I enjoy learning and am looking forward to carrying on my learning journey in a new environment at London Road.  I like meeting new people and having new experiences so I am looking forward to going to London Road.”

This project has been funded by a joint bid from the Education Funding Agency Demographic Growth Capital Fund which was written by Severndale’s Business Manager Tracey Mullinder and the College’s Vice Principal, John Owen.

For more information about the project, please call Severndale Specialist Academy on 01743 281600.

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