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GRAHAM's Beacon Programme Underway In The Midlands

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Work-based placements or 'taster days' are currently underway as part of GRAHAM's Beacon programme, a SEND employer engagement pilot being tested in the Midlands.

The programme supports pupils from The Westminster School in Rowley Regis, who have special educational needs and disabilities, prepare for the world of work.

In collaboration with Birmingham Women’s and Children's NHS Foundation Trust, placements are being offered as part of our Birmingham Children's Hospital redevelopment project. Over a seven-week programme, six students are attending two on-site 'taster days' to gain insight into various construction roles involved in the project. Each 'taster day' pairs two students to compliment and support each other's needs and abilities, with a teacher accompanying them.

In February, GRAHAM's project team welcomed 15 pupils, accompanied by 4 teachers, for an initial site visit. This introduced the pupils to the project and explained what they would learn if they participated in the Beacon programme placements. The children also got to take home their site safety boots and high vis vests, which they are using during their placements and can keep for future use.

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Sukhie Sandhu, Level 6 Careers Advisor at The Westminster School, who accompanied the children on the site visit, commented: "A great and rewarding experience for our SEN students to be able to see first-hand what working on a real live construction project is like. Thank you, GRAHAM, for organising. Our students have gained a wealth of knowledge about jobs in construction and we hope that this will inspire them to make more informed choices about their future and about careers in construction. We look forward to our students attending work experience days and continuing this invaluable partnership with you."

After the site visit, students interested in the Beacon programme and its site-based placements submitted their applications.

Pamela Green, Social Impact Business Partner at GRAHAM, said: "We received six fantastic applications from students who wanted to join our Beacon programme. They really took on board our brief to get creative – we received video clips, artwork, PowerPoint presentations. It was an honour to review the applications, and it was a very easy decision to offer all six students a position on the programme."

Ronan Hughes, Regional Director at GRAHAM, said: "We are delighted that the Beacon programme placements are now underway. We hope the pupils are enjoying seeing ‘construction in action’ at the Birmingham Children's Hospital redevelopment site. At GRAHAM, we want to make a positive difference and deliver lasting impact. By collaboratively working with the Trust to deliver this initiative, it allows us to help improve employability outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities, hopefully inspiring them to choose careers in construction."

Andy Rodgers, Head of Infrastructure at Vital Services for Birmingham Women’s and Children's, stated:

"We’re absolutely delighted to be working with GRAHAM and The Westminster School to offer these invaluable opportunities. We’re passionate about championing young people. This scheme, which gives support for those important first steps towards a career, does just that."

The Beacon programme will run until July, after which an event will take place for everyone involved to celebrate the success of the initiative.

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