Vocational Skills - we have a sustainable enterprise approach to work-based learning at Saxon Hill Academy.
Work based learning is a key aspect for students within ‘Towards Independence' dept. and these opportunities form the basis for our accreditation ensuring that students understand the importance and relevance of their valuable contribution to work in the community.
Community Work Experience Placements
Saxon Hill has established several community based work placements in order to provide real work environments for our students to develop work and employability skills. This enables our students to work within real business environments, and develop a range of vocational skills while developing their functional numeracy, literacy and communication skills. Their work at these venues provides evidence of skills that are then accredited to gain Awards, Certificates and Diplomas in Living Independently, Employability and Development Skills, and Skills for Life and Work.
Saxon Hill Craft Barn
Saxon Hill Craft Barn was established in 2012 originally named “Lichfield Scrap Barn” We are a craft store that uses clean business waste and donated items from the public, as arts, craft and play resources, making use of items that would otherwise have gone to landfill sites. Saxon Hill Craft Barn is based in the beautiful location of Chasewater Country Parks on the edge of Burntwood and Brownhills.
The store has a large customer base with many returning customers looking for crafting items at wonderfully low prices. The Craft Barn has a thriving Facebook page crammed with ‘make and do’ suggestions and all the current offers. With new deliveries being made all the time, we never know what interesting items may be added to the offers next week, check our Facebook page here.
The academy students access the two Craft Barn units several times per week. In the workshop unit, students learn skills to help manufacture and assemble craft packs ready for sale. In the retail unit, students price up and face up stock on the shelves, operate the till and learn about customer service during opening hours. The store has recently received extensive refurbishment and as a result there will now be more opportunities for the community to visit the shop and access this work based learning with their service users. We are currently developing partnerships with other organisations and schools to broaden our work based offer at this venue.
Saxon Hill Community Café
The Saxon Hill Community Café was established in 2013 and is based on the site of Saxon Hill Academy. It is open for the use of pupils, staff and invited visitors to the academy and also during ‘out of school’ hours, the café is open to the community for booked events. The café serves a variety of hot and cold food and drink in an attractive, warm and friendly environment.
The café is currently run by the academy’s catering team, Towards Independence students and supported by local volunteers. On Mondays the café is operated in partnership with ‘Catherine Care’ a non-profit making organisation providing a range of innovative opportunities for people with learning and physical disabilities, enabling them to enjoy the same rights and opportunities as others.
Catherine Care operate through a Direct Payment / Personal Budget scheme where adults apply for this funding through Social Services to access this fully supported, bespoke service. Catherine Care work alongside our current students, supporting our former students to learn the crucial work skills involved in ordering café stock, preparing and serving food and drink, handling money and managing customer service. Students are able to qualify for their Level 1 Food Health and Hygiene certificate whilst working in our café.
Dobbies Garden Centre, Shenstone
We had established a close relationship with a local garden centre.
It was agreed that we could build our very own class base at the Dobbies, Shenstone site. This provided a warm, comfortable base for students to make their own drinks and lunches during their visits. This enabled students to stay on site for much longer periods and the work opportunities increased rapidly.
Now students use this work base three days per week and learn valuable work skills such as unpacking deliveries, stacking shelves, facing up products, designing displays, pricing up products and scanning purchases at the tills. This project is a huge success as students benefit enormously from the expertise of the corporate retail world.
Saxon Hill community work placement opportunities were established as we wanted to expand the range of work based opportunities available to our students. We had previously identified a lack of local work based learning opportunities for young people and adults with physical and learning difficulties. Saxon Hill decided to take a pro-active approach and looked to develop opportunities that current pupils could access as part of their curriculum whilst also offering opportunities for our former pupils to return to in order to learn new independence and work related skills. As a result, two opportunities were created; Saxon Hill Craft Barn and Saxon Hill Community Café.
Lichfield Food Bank
The Lichfield Foodbank collection centre is based in the grounds of the Academy; this enables learners to identify and sort foods in the classroom, deliver dated foods to the Foodbank, to record sell-by dates and weights within the collection centre itself and to package collections of food packs ready for families. In addition, learners support the Foodbank by taking part in the collection of foods and donations in local supermarkets.
Towards Independence learners have recently become an Interact group, supported by Tamworth Rotary. The Interactees - Saxfieldians have an elected President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. The Saxfieldians have established their community based projects as part of their criteria and these are; The Lichfield Foodbank, SANDS, St John's Hospital and their overseas project Aqua Box.
In addition to the group specific programmes for each pathway group within the dept. there are individual learning capabilities that we are promoting:
o Two students on two separate days are independently working in the Foodbank with their collection team.
o One student is working with the school nurses on specific tasks towards Health Care competencies. She will be accessing Flick Learning Training modules to certificate this. She is now pursuing work experience in the local hospital which we will facilitate for this, her final school year, to help her transition to adulthood.
o To promote effective transition, we arranged for a Y14 student last year to work at her local library where she is now working as a volunteer 6 days per week.
o One student is attending an evening course stage 1 BSL along with a member of staff.
It is imperative that we support our young people to understand that the community is theirs and that they have a very important contribution to make to it.