Supporting Special Schools and students with SEND
Only 6% of SEND students end up with meaningful employment although 65% want a paid job (Mencap 2017).
It is more important than ever for all young people to have access to and regularly engage with a wide range of employers. Special schools and SEND staff in mainstream schools can sign up for free to start organising a variety of engaging and interactive activities with relatable role models from the world of work, both face-to-face and virtually.
Schools have told us employer engagement activities can help by:
- Showing real examples of employers who engage and actively champion employees with a disability
- Giving students and parents confidence that work can be a positive and rewarding experience and showing them what real possibilities exist within work
- Showing the range of routes into different careers and jobs including apprenticeships, employer training schemes, university or employment
Connecting students to relatable role models
The Inspiring the Future portal has thousands of volunteers from different sectors, job types and levels, who are passionate about sharing their stories and inspiring the next generation. Among these volunteers, we have nearly 1,000 role models who can talk about working with a disability, which you can specifically filter for on the Inspiring the Future portal.
“I’m a wheelchair user and so am a professional who happens to have a disability. I’m also a school governor in my spare time. One thing I would like to achieve is to breakdown any misconceptions about whether people with disabilities can work and whether it would be difficult to work alongside them – it wouldn’t and it isn’t!”- One volunteer told us why they would like to share their story about working with a disability
Students involved in Inspiring the Future activities have had lots of positive feedback after an employer engagement encounter:
- “I liked meeting new people that I don’t know”
- “I feel more confident now than before”
- “I want more events like this to know more about jobs and to see what it’s like”
What have other schools done?
Inspiring the Future has worked with a number of schools to support students with SEND to meet employers, both face-to-face and virtually. Schools can organise a range of interactive activities, ranging from simple Career Insight talks with one volunteer, to Speed Networking activities and Skills Workshops with multiple volunteers.
As part of National Careers Week, Erika at Sheaf Training College in Sheffield organised multiple virtual activities with volunteers from Inspiring the Future which followed a simple presentation and Q&A format.
“The virtual sessions prompted students to think about what kind of job would suit them, and what volunteering opportunities they could get involved in next. I also think it was so valuable for them to hear from a professional with similar challenges, to empower them about their futures.”
“I would say that it’s important to communicate the specific needs of your students with your volunteers, so that they can tailor their talk accordingly. I spoke with all the employers twice before the virtual encounters took place to support them to gain a better understanding of our learners’ and their needs. I would also encourage them to use visuals, whether that be images, slides, or a video to make their presentation as engaging and stimulating as possible. I additionally suggested they offer small activities such as asking questions related to them and their learning and to encourage students to use the chat box to reply.”
“Once you get your head around using the portal, it’s so easy to access a huge pool of virtual volunteers- all you have to do is write your description and invite. Planning my first virtual encounter felt quite daunting, but don’t let those fears stop you from connecting with amazing volunteers from the world of work.”Book a planning call with our Senior Coordinator Lara
Top tips for planning SEND activities
Based on feedback from schools after meeting employers from the world of work, we have pulled together some top tips for organising employer encounters:
- Communicate the needs of your students with employers by having a call with your volunteers before the session. This is also a good opportunity to chat through the format of the activity and let your volunteers know if they need to prepare anything.
- Emphasise the importance of visual cues (either face-to-face or virtually) before the session, for example by sharing a presentation or props they might use in their jobs.
- Keep interactivity at the heart of your encounters by allowing plenty of time for Q&A.
- Search for volunteers who have selected ‘Working with a Disability’ under ‘Specialist Topics’ to find relatable role models.
Some special schools have found our KS1 and KS2 pre-recorded resources suitable for learners of various ages. On your Inspiring the Future account, we have a range of pre-recorded resources with accompanying learning activities aimed at KS1 through to KS4 students which schools can instantly download for free.
- ‘Budding Futures – Tackling Gender Stereotypes’ for KS1/Y3 (5-8 year-olds) who meet a male florist and female construction worker.
- ‘Uplifting Futures – Tackling Gender Stereotypes’ for 8-11 year olds who meet a female tree surgeon, male outdoor nursery worker, female subsea engineer, and male mental health nurse.
- ‘TV and Tech Classroom Chats’ introduces 8-11 years olds to two exciting jobs in TV production and future focused tech such as drones and driverless cars.
- ‘NHS Everyday Heroes’ introduces KS2 children to varied roles in the NHS that go beyond doctors and nurses including a pharmacist, paediatrician, mental health nurse and child psychiatrist. This resource also available for KS3 & 4 students.
- ‘Inspiring Women Career Chats’ for KS3 & 4 students, explores the career journeys of two inspiring and pioneering women; an entrepreneur and a rugby match official.