The Beehive is the Sixth Form of Northgate School on Queens Park Parade and gives young people the opportunity to gain work experience both on site, in one of its public enterprises, or with partner companies that offer opportunities to get a taste of life in a business environment.
Through SEMLEP, the school has linked with an Education Partner, Richard Osborne from DB Group, who has introduced a number of companies who are keen to offer work experience to young people with different needs. The school also works with the charity Mencap, who offer an internship programme that combines study days with practical experience and, if appropriate, leads to a permanent job.
On September 14, staff and students welcomed Princess Anne, who had expressed an interest in seeing learnability in action and finding out more about how The Beehive gives students the type of skills that are valuable in the workplace and improve their employability.
Executive Headteacher Shez Webb explained:
“Northgate School has pupils across the range of learning disabilities, as well as those who have some physical impairment, or who are autistic and might find that a barrier to performing well in the workplace.
“At The Beehive, we provide practical qualifications in areas such as First Aid training, COHSS health and safety qualifications and food hygiene, which are all valuable to a potential employer. At the same time, part of The Beehive is open to the public with two charity shops, a café and a horticul- tural centre where students get the chance to learn about customer service, pricing and money skills, growing plants and food preparation. We employ chefs, but they are assisted by students to make hot meals for the school, and for items available in the café.”
The royal visit had to be kept secret until the last minute, and even then, students were sworn to secrecy for security reasons. The visit was a major success, though, and both The Princess Royal and the students were impressed with how the day went.
Shez Webb added:
“At first the students were just told that we had a VIP guest, and their guesses ranged from Lady Gaga to Will.i.am but they were delighted when they found out it was Princess Anne.
“The Princess had certainly done her homework and was very interested in what we are trying to achieve here, asking lots of relevant questions as she met the team.”