Ofsted praise for Linkage College

Government inspectors have highlighted Linkage College, which has bases in the Louth area, in two examples of best practice in a new report.

A highly successful charity golf day administered and run by the College’s learners for a local businessman, and the success of a College graduate both demonstrate the high standards achieved by the College in developing the employment skills of its learners.

A report by Ofsted, called Promoting enterprise in college vocational courses, shares the experiences of 15 high-performing colleges in teaching enterprise-related skills and entrepreneurial capability.

The Diable Golf Day, set up by Cleethorpes businessman Tony Diable has celebrated its fifth year raising money for Linkage, where his son Jordan was a student. It raised £2000 in 2012. The report highlighted the demands of such a high-profile activity which attracts 150 people. All students are involved in problem-solving to ensure the day runs to plan and is successful from start to finish. The day develops their skills in retail, catering, hospitality and media and greatly increases their chances of employment, as well as forming a significant part of their course work.

The report also profiles Linkage graduate Matthew Coulbeck who has Aspergers Syndrome, and illustrates the success of individual students in developing skills and entrepreneurial capability when they can access individual specialist support. After initially going to study in a mainstream college and his placement there breaking down, Matthew, who had aspirations to work in the catering industry, moved to Linkage where his learning needs could be met. He enrolled on a one-year transition course and a bespoke programme was created and delivered by the College’s staff. Matthew’s programme included one-to-one support to develop his confidence to a point where he was able to move on to the challenges presented by internal real work environments.

As his confidence grew and his catering skills developed, Matthew moved onto placements in catering with local employers. He completed his NVQ level 2 catering qualification three months early, gained a computer literacy qualification and a Level 1 in adult numeracy. With the support of staff at the College, he was also able to practise driving his car, including journeys to unfamiliar places, and develop pedestrian skills that he had previously found particularly difficult.

Matthew ultimately applied for a staff position of catering assistant at the Gatehosue Café in Manby near Louth and, following interview against external candidates, was offered and accepted the post. He said: “I used to feel nervous about everything – new people and new surroundings. I did not like working in different environments. But I loved college and felt more and more confident because of the support I received.”

This report highlighted the benefits of close links with businesses, employers and local community groups and including enterprise-related skills in the curriculum, which weredeveloping enterprise-related skills was key to the future success of young people.

Linkage Director of Education Matthew Orford says: “It is a tribute to the hard work of all students and staff that we are seen as exemplars of good practice, which is not limited to these examples, but can be seen every day on our campuses.”

The College is run by Linkage Community Trust, a charity which support learning disabled people with education, care services and finding paid work. Further details about Linkage and this report can be found at www.linkage.org.uk.