We have recently had our new immersive room fitted here at Underley Garden. The pupils have been
The team at Underley Garden, led by Assistant Head Teacher, Rochelle Sowden, organised another fantastic full week of careers events and activities recently, building on the success of last year. We spoke to Rochelle for a snapshot of the week and all the amazing interactive learning opportunities that were on offer.
The week kicked off with a presentation from a NHS team, sharing information on the types of jobs that are available in the sector. A group of six young people attended, and were excited to learn about the work experience that’s available to them via the Project Search programme.
Cumbria Fire and Rescue’s visit is always a favourite, and this time was as popular as ever – trying on uniforms, taking part in a quiz and then getting into a fire appliance outside, when the whole school had a go at using the hose!
There was also a visit from a local electrician, whose talk was enjoyed by several students who are on track to study vehicle maintenance and engineering at college. They had the chance to try out electrical testing kits and hear about the career pathway available to them.
Tuesday saw a fantastic session from the Department of Work and Pensions who ran mock interviews with the young people. Alongside this, another group took part in an interview tips session, using role play, and giving each other feedback and constructive criticism. Everyone was really engaged and the DWP rep said she’d have given everyone interviewed the job!
An offsite visit to the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre went down well – eight young people visited the former racehorses, learned about the different roles involved in looking after them and enjoyed an arena demonstration of the horses’ skills.
Two therapy-based sessions also took place on Tuesday: Scrapbooking which a group of complex learners enjoyed, researching and making collages of ideas, and scrapbooks as a communication tool, plus a bike maintenance session, where three pathways of learners got hands-on, changing inner tubes and tyres and cleaning bikes.
As part of Underley Garden’s link with Lancaster City Council, a group of eight students donned hi-vis, PPE and litter pickers and worked together to clean up Morecambe Cycle Track.
Wednesday was another busy day, including an interactive talk with lots of tools from Kendal College’s Construction team, demonstrating a more vocational pathway. A session from Hardy Soft Play meant a good game of giant Jenga, while off site, a group travelled to Little Lancashire Village in Darwen, to role-play careers in an airport setting.
Later on, former maintenance man Fred ran a car mechanics session for a group of four boys who are interested in studying motor maintenance and engineering at college – Fred hopes to be able to arrange some work experience for them at the garage where he works.
The Rural Skills Hub was on hand to get everyone involved in building a dry-stone wall (with polystyrene ‘stones’) and teach them about the different materials involved. They also ran a very popular mini-beasts hunt in the grounds.
Forging more links with the local community included a visit to a local care home, where the young people enjoyed chatting with the residents, and finding out what their careers they’d enjoyed during their lives.
KS1 and 2’s trip to Manchester Airport had to be postponed to April due to snow, but there were plenty of other things happening: Right2Work came in to talk about Apprenticeships available at Lancashire and Morecambe College, including E-Sports, which was very popular. In the afternoon, a little pampering was on offer at BB Salon Services, run by two students on work experience. Students could choose to have a treatment or help Brooke and Jessica by learning to wash heir.
A classroom cinema brought the week to a close, with homemade tickets, popcorn and drinks for HT3 and HT2 classes to enjoy.
Throughout the week, some students had the chance to help out with lunchtime service and a café, making and serving food, which was something non-verbal young people could join in with.
Another feature of the week was ‘Orchard Street’ – six classrooms, a sensory room, salon and an independence flat for complex learners which were transformed into a bank, post office, shop, hospital and grooming parlour – which was a hive of activity, with all the young people on Bluebell pathway joining in, and incorporating therapeutic and sensory activities.
The highlight of the week for Rochelle, and the one she feels had the most impact was a session run by The Well, a local drug and rehabilitation charity.
“The Well was set up by two former addicts, who help other people in the same situation find employment and also refer them to help. Founder Kerry brought along a young service user, Eva, who shared her story with the group, and answered any questions they had,” says Rochelle. “Eight young people attended the session, and Kerry set them a Dragons Den style challenge. Giving them an imaginary £5000, the idea was to come up with a concept for a service or facility that doesn’t currently exist. After 45 minutes to discuss, ideas included:
“All the boys had to stand up and pitch their ideas to Kerry and the group, and the winner was Lewis, with his ‘gated community’ plan.”
The week was a huge success, and was a great chance for the children and young people to find out about all the opportunities that are open to them when they move on from Underley. The fun didn’t stop at the end of the week, however -more visits are planned in the weeks and months to come, including North West Ambulance Service and police dogs (including a puppy!), plus working with St John’s Hospice to grow and sell herbs at a local food festival.
Well done to Rochelle and the team on a brilliant week!