MP backs mission to help Ivel pupils shine

Jody Whitehead, restauarant manager at The Lounge, Brenda Huckle, work experience co-ordinator at Ivel Valley School, student Tristan Chambers, MP Alistair Burt, and Julie Mudd, headteacher at Ivel Valley School.
Jody Whitehead, restauarant manager at The Lounge, Brenda Huckle, work experience co-ordinator at Ivel Valley School, student Tristan Chambers, MP Alistair Burt, and Julie Mudd, headteacher at Ivel Valley School.

A special school in Biggleswade is on a mission to persuade employers to help its pupils learn about the world of work.

Ivel Valley School invited Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire, to see one of its students, Tristan Chambers, demonstrate his workplace skills at The Lounge, on Thursday, June 23.

Tristan, aged 18, who is on the autistic spectrum, has been on an extended work placement at the bistro and wine bar in the town since October and has become a valued member of the team.

Mr Burt said: “It’s about giving students a chance - and employers get a lot from the experience too.”

Julie Mudd, headteacher at Ivel Valley, said: “We do have some very loyal employers in the town and surrounding areas who have given our students work experience and we are hugely grateful for their support.

“We’re finding it difficult to get placements for some of our 16 to 19-year-olds and often it’s because shops, businesses and voluntary organisations don’t understand what is involved and how much support we offer.”

She added: “We do all the paperwork required, and wherever or whenever necessary the student will be accompanied by a member of school staff. The placement can be in a two-week block, or sometimes all that is needed is an hour or two each week.

“Our pupils can benefit hugely from being trusted and encouraged in a workplace. Their confidence and life skills can really soar. But the positive effect doesn’t just apply to them - businesses can get real satisfaction from changing a young person’s life.”

Jody Whitehead, restaurant manager at The Lounge, said: “It’s been a joy having Tristan here and seeing his self-esteem grow. He’s a really hard worker and a pleasure to have around. He’s a gem!”

If you are a local employer and would you like to know more, contact Brenda Huckle, work experience co-ordinator at Ivel Valley on 01767 601010, or email her at brenda.huckle@ivelvalley.beds.sch.uk