Five Year 14 students, at Milestone Academy, one young woman and four young men, are working this year with local employers in the Dartford and Gravesend areas for up to three days per week as part of the supported internships programme. Their successful work placements are in retail, hair dressing and the leisure industry.
Supported internships are ‘…one type of study programme aimed at young people aged 16-24 who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan and who want to move into employment and need extra support to do so.’ (DfE Advice ‘Supported Internships.’ Published in June 2014 and revised in December 2014).
The aim of supported internships is to prepare young people with an EHC Plan and complex needs for paid employment. The interns from Milestone Academy are supported in the work place by trained Job Coaches from Kent Supported Employment (KSE) and are taught the skills the employer needs through systematic instruction, an approach specifically designed to help people with complex learning difficulties learn new tasks. Employers also receive vital support from KSE Job Coaches with time built into the programme for regular meetings to address issues and any concerns.
Interns have to comply with real job conditions with respect to timekeeping and dress code and their work placements have to meet a real business need for the employer whom it is hoped will be able to offer a job at the end of the internships.
A supported internship may last up to one year, six months of which must be unpaid work experience with an employer. Interns have to continue to study English and Maths on the two days they do not work. At Milestone Academy they also study Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education in the post 16 department along with travel training and other employment and life skills.
Since their involvement in the programme the five Milestone interns have spoken of becoming more independent and feeling greater confidence in their ability to do their job in the workplace. The majority travel to their place of work independently on public transport. Feedback from employers also show that interns are making a valuable contribution to their respective organisations and are fully integrated and respected members of staff.
Leigh Academies Trust and Kent Supported Employment have together designed clear and transparent criteria to help identify if supported internship is the right career path for young people. In addition, with Milestone Academy they have produced two booklets which explain supported internships in greater detail. These are:
A model for implementing Supported Internships in Schools & Supported Internships for Students.
Please contact Janet Tidmas, Assistant Director for Phase Four at Milestone Academy if you would like to receive copies of these booklets or want to know more about supported internships.
Article written by Berenice Frith, External Special Educational Needs (SEN) Consultant