Course inspires students to overcome challenges

Inspire Academy students with Lewis Marshall fourth from left.
Inspire Academy students with Lewis Marshall fourth from left.
19 April 2017 5:29PM

A PRUDHOE student has taken great strides towards his dream job at Northumberland College.

Lewis Marshall is one of nine students on the Inspire course at Northumberland College’s Foundation Academy.

Twenty-year-old Lewis is on the autistic spectrum and the move from Percy Hedley School to college represented a big challenge for him.

But the Inspire course has been designed for students who have an autistic spectrum condition, moderate or mild learning difficulties or have an Education Health and Care Plan.

Northumberland College has a specially-built classroom at its Kirkley Hall Campus and has employed a dedicated course team leader for the new Inspire courses.

As part of the programmes students, aged from 16-20, learn softer employability skills such as team work, how to travel, handle money and communication skills. The learners are set personal and academic targets and maths and English are embedded into each Inspire course.

Specialist tutor Karl Rathmell said: “It’s very much a course that’s cut to fit the learner, so we are not setting a learner up to fail.

“We have a dedicated support team that nurtures and supports in the classroom and during practical and academic activities.

“It’s a brand spanking new course and it’s five days a week, which is a magnificent bonus because most college courses are only three days.”

Lewis, who lives with his parents in Prudhoe, is on the first year of the Inspire entry level and level one courses concentrating on horticulture and animal care.

Mum Rebecca said: “I was worried about the change for him but he was looking forward to working with the animals at Northumberland College. He’s adapted well because of the support he’s had and he loves working with animals and he gets on well with his peers.’’

Northumberland College intends to build on the success of Inspire with additional courses in hair and beauty, catering, sport, travel and tourism which could be added to the curriculum in 2017/18.

Karl said: “We’ve seen massive changes in our learners academically and we’ve seen some incredible changes in individuals.

“Socially, they are making friends, not just within their peer but also with other students at the college.’”

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