Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

 E4E Derby help pupils at Horizon’s Sixth Form with their entrepreneurship skills at city event aimed at providing inclusivity for all

E4E Derby help pupils at Horizon’s Sixth Form with their entrepreneurship skills at city event aimed at providing inclusivity for all

Pupils at a Derby special needs provision have been learning about the world of work and showing off their entrepreneurial skills at a showcase event in the city.

The ‘Let’s talk About SEND’ event, which was held at the University of Derby, aims to develop engagement between employers in the city and county and young people who have special educational needs (SEND).

Various schools and organisations – including Stubbin Wood in Shirebrook and Brackenfield School – had stands and tables where they showed off various projects they have been working on over the past few months, in the hope that local employers would be impressed with their products.

A team from Horizons Sixth Form – the post-16 provision for St Martin’s School – took a small selection of the water bottles, mugs, t-shirts and badges that they have printed for businesses in the city in the hope that those attending the event would place an order.

Arshad Iqbal, manager of Derby City Council-backed careers scheme E4E, said:

“We support St Martin’s School with mock interviews, mentoring and CV workshops and, for this event, we have been helping fine-tune the entrepreneurial skills of those who attend Horizons Sixth Form by assisting with marketing plans and creating order forms.

“It was fantastic to see the proud students talking to employers – and possible buyers – about their work. There is a real sense of pride, and the products are great, too.”

Joe Johnson post-16 teacher and careers lead at Horizon’s Sixth Form, said that the help provided by E4E has helped his pupils.

“The project has been hands-on and the insight and experience we have received from E4E is greatly appreciated,” he said.

“Arshad came to our headquarters in Iron Gate and helped the pupils to create business plans, to think about how they were going to market the products and he also helped to create an order form.

“We shared ideas; for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we’re making commemorative mugs. Customers send in a picture of the person whose face they would like to see on the mug, and we add a crown to the picture. It’s something unique to commemorate Her Majesty’s reign on the throne.”

Construction firm Woodhead Group shared their experiences of employing a person with special needs, while Janine Cherrington from Derby-based Transition 2 – an organisation which supports young adults aged between 18-25 with severe learning difficulties, learning disabilities and autism – spoke of how beneficial being employed by a city business had been for those who attend T2, including youngsters Jess and Thomas.

She said: “We want courageous employers to take a chance on these people.

“All they need is an opportunity in the workplace, to create genuine relationships with people who may choose to invite them to a football match or to the pub.”

In the Government’s most recent data on employment and disability, the disability employment rate has increased by 9.0 percentage points from 43.6% in 2013 to 52.7% in 2021. One in five of the working-age population are classed as disabled – the increasing number in people reporting a disability is being largely driven by an increase in mental health conditions. 

The disability employment gap is wider for those who are male, have no qualifications and are of White ethnicity. Disabled people are more likely to be working in retail, health or education than any other industry.

Arshad added:

“E4E works hard to help young people in Derby to prepare for the world of work and it is a joy to see those who we have worked with at Horizons Sixth Form confident when selling their service.

“E4E is run by volunteers and, particularly over the last two years with various lockdowns, the service has been much-needed. We held our mock interviews online when covid was at its peak and, as we returned to face-to-face interviews in schools, we found that mentoring and mock interview sessions were a good chance for teenagers to talk to an adult who wasn’t familiar with them, to build up those inter-personal skills.

“But it’s at events and in schools where you can really engage with the young people and show them encouragement.”

Children’s Services in Derby have recently been praised by Government inspectors Ofsted for “ensuring that children living in the city have the right help and support when they need it.”

Cllr Evonne Williams, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Skills in Derby and a supporter of E4E, said:

“I have been a councillor for 22 years and I am so proud of the team here in Derby. They are dedicated, courageous, innovative, and passionate about the services they deliver and provide for the children, young people and families in Derby.

“Children’s Services are a corporate priority in Derby and this takes real team work.”

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