In 2018, the Deaf Academy became the first Deaf education provision to offer Supported Internships, a program which helps to prepare our Post-16 students for working life and facilitates their progression to paid employment.
One of the goals of our Supported Internship program is to allow our students undertake internships which mirror their interests and future career aspirations, allowing them to access meaningful work experience. Tom, 21, is currently working with a regional rail company. Tom is passionate about trains, and was thrilled to gain this placement. He said:
‘I knew I wanted to do my internship at a train station, as I love trains and want to find out everything about them…’
Tom has spent time at different local rail stations, including Exeter St David’s and Exmouth. He has been learning about a range of different aspects of working in the rail industry, including health and safety at the station, customer care and assistance, refreshments on-board in both standard and first class, signalling, and learning about the wider rail network. Tom was also shown how to drive one of the smaller two carriage trains which operate between Exeter and Exmouth.
At the Academy we have a full-time Work Related Learning Coordinator, who is responsible for ensuring that students are matched to the best placement available for them. They are then supported by our Occupational Therapist, who helps to support the student with independence, and skills such as travelling to and from the placement, and a Job Coach who supports them with communication and job skills in the workplace.
Tom's coach, Jude:
‘Tom is very enthusiastic about trains and always comes to work experience with an eager, positive attitude. I have seen him grow in confidence when communicating with the train station staff and the general public. I’m very impressed with his knowledge of not just the train timetables but the vehicles themselves!’
‘I’m really impressed with his knowledge of train timetables, platform information and customer service skills. He has also been assisting customers by signposting them to the correct replacement bus services. We’re excited that our staff have had the opportunity to work with a Deaf student and to learn more about Deaf awareness from both Tom and his job coach.’
Academy Assistant Principal Mark Stocks, who oversees the Supported Internship program, is keen to make sure our students get as much as they can from the experience:
‘Our aim as a post-16 provision is to prepare our students for working life; to help them achieve their best in education and to make the progression to employment. Placements such as Tom’s are a wonderful opportunity to work with different employers to change lives of young Deaf adults as well as to bring a range of benefits into the workplace.
Getting the right young person into the right job role with the right employer is critical to the success of an individual internship – this placement has been so successful because Tom genuinely enjoys the work he is doing, and can now see what his future career might look like.’
Tom’s station colleagues are also very impressed with his work ethic; Tom’s manager said: ‘I’m really impressed with his knowledge of train timetables, platform information and customer service skills. He has also been assisting customers by signposting them to the correct replacement bus services. We’re excited that our staff have had the opportunity to work with a Deaf student and to learn more about Deaf awareness from both Tom and his job coach.’ Another colleague, Carol, said ‘Tom is always professionally dressed and well presented. He is very polite and very interested in and committed to the work.’
Tom would eventually love to build a career in the rail industry. He said: ‘I love working on the trains, and I want to continue my Supported Internship placement here next September, as well as trying out some new opportunities. In future I hope I can work at Cardiff Train Station. I would like to either support customers or maybe work maintaining the trains.’
All of our students are supported throughout their journey at the Deaf Academy. Our team uses a person-centred approach, which puts the young people and their families at the centre of everything that they do.
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