King's Lynn training site expands services to include construction
A West Norfolk charity that offers automotive training to young people will be expanding its services to include construction.
Open Road West Norfolk offers training to people experiencing difficulties in mainstream education. From September it will offer training in construction as well as automotive training at its site on Lynn's Hardwick Industrial Estate.
The news has been warmly received by The Engage Trust, which is already in talks about making the most of the new services as excluded students in West Norfolk currently travel to Norwich to use its facilities.
Terry Smith, trustee of Open Road West Norfolk, is announcing its construction training plans when Charles Watts, the High Sheriff of Norfolk, visits the charity today.
Terry said: “We’re delighted to be expanding our services into construction training from September. Particularly in our area of Norfolk, there’s a real need in alternative provision for young people who struggle in mainstream education.
“The courses available at our workshop are implemented in a new environment and guide students through the practical skills of vehicle mechanics – and also help them with skills such as planning and problem solving.
“Over time, you see the confidence and self-esteem in these youngsters grow. It’s brilliant we’ll be able to apply our approach in the area of construction training and that’s a really exciting prospect for young people who will pass through our doors in the future.
“Next year, Open Road West Norfolk celebrates its tenth anniversary – and this is certainly another wonderful milestone to add to our journey.”
Young people in West Norfolk, many of whom may struggle at school, are able to visit Open Road’s modern and well-equipped facilities to learn about vehicle mechanics and have the opportunity to gain industry-recognised qualifications.
Schemes are also available for 16-24 year olds who want to achieve a motor vehicle qualification, gain work experience in the workshop or receive career guidance on their path to employment.
The Engage Trust currently offers alternative provision and says the move would potentially benefit a large number of excluded pupils in West Norfolk.
Sue Street, interim CEO of Engage Trust, said: “We know how many young people benefit from a different kind of educational pathway than that on offer through traditional schooling.
“Being able to open up practical, real-life qualifications to as many pupils as possible, offering the best access to a positive and economically rewarding future for them.
“This is why we have a staff team, Karl Plane (head of additional provision and quality assurance services) and Annette Walker (assistant head teacher ) exploring possible partnership opportunities with Open Road West Norfolk.”
The latest government data from the Department for Education shows Norfolk has the highest rate of permanent exclusions in the East of England.
Figures for 2015/2016 indicate there were 186 permanent exclusions in state-funded secondary schools in Norfolk. In the same category, the next highest local authorities were Suffolk and Essex with just 55 and 53 recorded permanent exclusions respectively.