Children with special needs in Northamptonshire are finishing school with strong aspirations and feeling better prepared for their future – thanks to essential, tailored support being provided by local charity, Teamwork Trust.

Since October 2016, former teacher John Akers – Teamwork’s Transition Officer – has helped make a difference to the lives of over 60 young people in Northamptonshire, by bridging the gap of transition support available in the county’s schools.

Through his role, which is funded by Children In Need, John assists pupils in Years 11 to 13 who need extra help planning their future – support which some schools are unable to offer.

John explains:

For youngsters with special needs, leaving school can be daunting. Schools are structured to support the whole family and suddenly that stops. This is especially prevalent in Northamptonshire where a shortage of funding has resulted in a significant lack of transition support.

“I work with individuals, small groups and others more intensively on a one-to-one basis, to provide a programme of work experience and education projects for students with a range of needs, from Asperger’s to hearing difficulties.”

The social impact of the project is impressive. 80% of students, compared to 56% are more confident about searching and applying for jobs and training. By the end of the programme, 92% felt equipped with the skills for them get a job.

Transitions Leader, Isebrook said: “John’s invaluable support to our learners has been of real benefit. We have seen their confidence, communication skills and independence grow, and they’ve gained a real awareness of the working world.”

Comments from students:

I met new people and learnt some new skills that will help me in the future.

I know that I have been worried about leaving school, but I am ok now. I have plans.