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Work placements combining job skills with studies

SEN students making a difference thanks to support at St Vincent College’s School of Personalised Learning

By Gary Lawrence

STUDENTS at St Vincent College’s School of Personalised Learning – SPL – are finding their feet in the world of work and making a difference to the community thanks to the teaching support they receive.

Two students on the SPL’s Supported Internship Programme have taken their first steps into the world of employment after being given the confidence to do so through work placements.

The programme offers the students the chance to complete work placements while continuing to improve their maths and English skills.

“The aim of the course is to get the student ready for work and have the skills to apply and secure a job,” said the SPL’s careers advisor Jo Wandless.

Darren Doughty, 20, who is in his fourth year, has found a weekend job at The Craft Coffee House in Gosport after taking up a placement there.

And Mrs Wandless said: “He gradually overcame his apprehension about working with the public and made a real success of his placement.

“After a few weeks he was paid for working and has also been offered some fully paid hours at the weekend. We are all very proud of him.”


Kyle Lobban, who is also 20 and in his fourth year, spent two years on placement at the Premier convenience store in Elson Road, Gosport, before using the confidence and experience he gained to get a job at the Asda store based in Fareham.

Mrs Wandless said: “Ray Sandhu, the manager, was extremely supportive of Kyle and taught him all sorts of things about working, like how to manage his time and present himself.”

“She encouraged him to keep fit and to think more positively about himself. He took all the advice on board and was an extremely popular member of staff there. He was eventually offered paid work in the holidays.

“He used these new skills to get a part-time job at Asda and we are all absolutely delighted for him. We’re also really grateful for the support he was given by Mrs Sandhu at the shop.”

She said the pair’s success is evidence that, with the right support, SEND students have a lot to offer employers, adding: “They can make a real contribution, they are conscientious and loyal and they are extremely good workers.”

Students in the SPL’s Level 1 group have been raising money at events they organised for Children in Need, Macmillan and Save the Children over the first term of the academic year.

Teacher Amanda Cross said: “The students have been busy doing work experience within the college supporting staff in the music, maths and English department and performing arts departments. They have really made a difference and helped various teachers with their workload.”


A Christmas project devised by students in December raised £500 by selling festive crafts they had made at a WI event and at their fair.

“They did brilliantly and the money they brought in will be invested back into future enterprise projects this year,” said Mrs Cross.

This spring the students will be helping to create a wildlife garden at the Alverbridge Nursery in Gosport.

St Vincent Principal Andy Grant said: “It’s always very gratifying to hear about the impact the SPL students make, not just to the college or the community but on their own lives by developing their self-esteem and capability through the brilliant support they receive.

“It’s wonderful to hear that businesses like the Premier shop and Craft Café are giving them a chance and reaping the rewards of doing so. If other businesses want to do likewise they only have to get in touch.”

Readers can find out more about the work of the School of Personalised Learning by visiting

PICTURED: Darren Doughty, 20, has found a weekend job at The Craft Coffee House in Gosport thanks to support from teachers and careers advisor Jo Wandless at college’s School of Personalised Learning.