Pupils shine in new class;Learning partnerships;Case study

NEWCASTLE is an early pioneer of collaborative partnerships linking schools, colleges, the education authority and employers with innovative projects for young and adult learners.

Relaunch is a work-related learning scheme aimed at re-engaging difficult 15 and 16-year-olds who have no interest in school except their leaving date.

They fall into the category of "in danger of becoming disaffected," with poor attendance and bad attitudes. Left to their own devices they would most likely leave school - probably expelled - with no qualifications and no prospects of a job.

Run by Newcastle's education and business partnership, the Relaunch programme aims to "re-motivate pupils, stimulate their interest for the future in education and training, develop employability skills and provide accreditation or recognition of key skills achievements".

Now in its third year, Relaunch involves 60 pupils from six Newcastle secondaries who attend school for three days a week and Newcastle college for two. Here they can choose between a range of vocational courses suited to their interests and talents from hairdressing and mechanics to video production and administration.

Over the year there are two blocks of work and training with a local employer, and a one-day personal development course run by the army.

Throughout the course, the emphasis is on practical help, so pupils are given extra time for careers guidance, communication skills, team-building and problem-solving.

Last year about half of the 73 pupils enrolled lasted the duration of the course and left with qualifications and certificates of achievement.

Tracey Rawlinson, project manager, is proud of this. "The fact that they continued to the end means they got something worthwhile out of it," she said. "One joined the army. He was a real handful at the beginning but he really shone. He matured before our eyes."

And the secret of this success? "They enjoy being treated differently, in a different environment, going to college and being grown-up; having the variety and having someone paying them a lot of attention instead of being shouted at or ignored."

Rosie Waterhouse

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