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World of Work

Here at Little Heath School, we recognise that people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) face long-standing prejudice and barriers to enter the world of work (WOW), from the simple act of divulging their disability to a lack of work experience. 76% of people aged 16 to 64 in the general population in England are in employment but only 6% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work (NHS Digital 2018) with many more capable and desperate to work. This leaves people with SEND deprived of the many benefits work can bring including good health, wealth and well-being which contributes to our happiness, confidence and independence. The right support and guidance will enable more people to work and enjoy these benefits.

We believe that everyone has the right and should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, where only talent and determination to work is all that matters.

In 2017, we introduced and developed our WOW programme to enrich the lives of our young pupils and create a brighter future for them. We have a whole school graduated approach to the WOW with key stage 3 pupils having job roles in class and participating in work tasters within the school. At key stage (KS) 4 and 5, work-related learning or work independence is embedded within their curriculum. We also offer KS5 pupils sector specific lessons in Catering/Hospitality and Horticulture. They learn a range of practical skills and gain a general understanding of these industries which helps to raise their aspirations and enables them to make more informed career choices. To further prepare them, we provide our pupils aged 14 to 19 with the opportunity to 'learn by doing' through work experience with local and national companies with the availability of on-the-job support or coach. What’s more, they learn through enterprise activities ranging from producing and selling of personalised calendars to providing a car wash service in school. All pupils receive accreditation relevant to WOW.

We are a pioneering school in London Borough of Redbridge – one of only three in the country involved in the initial trial of the four-year programme When I Grow Up (WIGU) run by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (FPLD). The programme was delivered as a series of 10 workshops designed to prepare pupils and their families for the WOW. Pupils and staff were invited to the national launch of WIGU in the Houses of Parliament with one pupil offered direct work experience in the general election campaign after he had expressed his ambition to be a Prime Minister to change the lives of people with disabilities. Our pupils’ voice has been featured in a promotional video to showcase WIGU, in addition our work is being used to demonstrate the FPLD’s guide for employers which can be accessed via this link:

Our annual WOW week is now in its third year with a different focus each year and involving local employers, the Chamber of Commerce, our partner colleges, parents and esteem guests. All pupils from KS3 through to KS5 develop their understanding of the WOW through specially tailored workshops, presentations and celebratory assembly with an award for the ‘Employer of the Year’ presented.

Our WOW programme is built around the Gatsby Benchmarks which are an outline of eight standards that identifies the best practice and guidance for schools to improve their career provisions. Our school has mostly met 100% of the assessment areas of the Gatsby Benchmarks and are working towards meeting them in full.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to our WOW programme: FPLD, our work experience providers, guest speakers, staff, parents or carers, and pupils. Without your support, it just wouldn’t be possible.

Finally, do you believe in a world where people with a disability should be equally valued, listened to and included? Please complete the Contact Form to offer your support to our WOW programme in any capacity possible including careers information, visits to work environments, enterprise projects, employers delivering sector-specific information or business simulation challenges, mentoring, mock interviews, work tasters or experience, work shadowing or workshops. We would love to hear from you.