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Steps in to Work Traineeships, UK

Working with NEET learners 16-18 to Gain Employment (Not in Employment Education or Training) and Managing Disruptive Behaviours


Steps in to Work is a 6 month programme. The main objective is for these young people to gain a Maths and English qualifications along with employability skills and full time employment (over 16 hours).

A traineeship is an education and training programme with work experience that unlocks the great potential of young people, aged 16 to 18, and prepares them for their future careers by helping them to become ‘work ready’.

At its core are a high-quality work experience placement, work preparation training, and English and maths if needed, giving young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for, helping them secure an apprenticeship or a paid job. We work closely with other agency’s such as the employers to gain supported work experience placement, the local youth centres and prospects team, safeguarding teams and on occasion’s social services and the police.

My story will cover a student (Jess) who attended the traineeship programme. Jess was disaffected in school previously and was also a looked after child known to the care system. This student was 17 and not in employment education or training (NEETS). She lives at home with her single mother who is unemployed with 4 children.  


Our recruitment and assessment coordinator works closely with local schools, colleges and the youth centres to find young people that would benefit from the traineeship programme. They are then assessed in an interview. This assessment is adapted for the course requirements and demographic of our learners. The majority of our referrals come through Prospects at the Youth Centre. This was also the case for Jessica.

Jess’ Learner Journey

When Jess was accepted on to the programme she attended a 3 week induction. The purpose of this induction was to achieve a baseline assessment. We assessed her functional skills levels and also her developing work skills. An Individual learning plan was completed with Jess along with a skills tracker which included her ability to travel independently, time keep, initiative, focus, confidence and appropriate behaviour and language. Targets were set with Jess and barriers identified for class and placement to support her development.

Within this induction period a placement is found for all students. Jess’ placement was at a children’s centre called Prestbury play mates. Jess’ placement was found by the job coach. Prior to Jess starting Health and safety checks where completed along with insurance checks by the job coach.  Jess’ employer was given a 1 page profile on Jess. The 1 page profile was written with Jess and her tutor, it included support strategies, a section called “about me”, who to contact and her aims for the placement.

The main barrier for Jess was the expectation of her at home. Jess lived at home with mum who is a single out of work parent. Jess had 3 younger siblings all under 10 and Jess was expected to do school runs most days and general care. This affected her attendance, time keeping and reliability.

Jess is a looked after child (LAC) in the care system however still living with her mother. There are a number of reasons why a child may be ‘looked after’ by the local authority. Most often it is because the child’s parents or the people who have parental responsibilities and rights to look after the child are unable to care for him/her, have been neglecting him/her or the child has committed an offence. The local authority has specific responsibilities and duties towards a child who is being looked after or who has been looked after. In Jess’ case she was not being cared for in accordance with social services assessment of well-being, however it was decided the Jess would remain at home under compulsory measures decided by the court.

Jess’ lack of attendance due to responsibilities with the younger children was in breach of the measures decided by court and social services were informed.

In this case support was offered to Jess’ mum and Jess to help get her to placement and class on time.  Due to the family being on a low income we were able to apply for bursaries for Jess to support her with transport costs and lunch money.  

Despite this Jess was still late to placement on a Monday. An induvial learning plan (ILP) was completed with Jess. In the ILP placement and academic targets are assessed along with personal targets and her emotional wellbeing. Jess was 17 at the time of assessment and lived an active social life. This was the reason for her repeated lateness on a Monday. As Jess had improved on time keeping of the other days we swapped her Monday day to a Friday to help maintain consistency.

Jess’ placement was supported with weekly visits by the job coach. The placement was staged and her hours were built up to full time (24 hours) over a 3-4 week period. This was due to Jess struggling to maintain a routine. Jess had been out of school and not in work for over 1 year so full time hours at the start was not a realistic expectation. With each visit feedback is asked for from the employer and from Jess and work targets are set. This is then fed back to tutor who can support the work targets in class sessions and vice versa.  

Although there had been issues with workplace communication and reliability. Jess’ employer saw her potential also and the improvements made and offered jess paid employment within 4 months of the programme. This was supported by the programme as her hours meant she was still able to attend class.

Jess showed some disruptive EBD (Emotional, Behavioural Difficulties) behaviours from the start of the programme, on occasion becoming verbally aggressive towards peers and staff. Staff worked with Jess to identify her triggers and we adapted the learning environment to support her. A humanistic approach with clear differentiated targets and expectations for Jess helped her to manage her own behaviours. For example one of her targets was to “take 5 minutes when needed” Jess and the tutor had an understanding if she said she needed to have a break she was allowed to leave the room to calm down without question from the tutor.  

These approaches along with a strong rapport between staff and Jess helped her to engage stay focused and learn to manage her own behaviours. For Jess’ English and Maths she was given “I can sheets” that listed all the skills needed to achieve both English and Maths.  This helped Jess to see her own progress and learner journey. At the start of each session her personal targets where given to her along with her “I cans” and Jess would review at the end of each session if she had achieved them.  

Jess was originally assessed at an Entry level 2 during inductions however with the right support and inclusive classroom she moved up 3 levels in 6 months.

With an adapted humanistic approach Jess was able to achieve her full potential Level 2’s in both English and Maths. Jess also gained full time paid employment within child care. A journey that Jess completed within 6 months.

In the traineeships programme 2016 cohort 75% of our students gained full time employment and 100% gained work experience along with English and Maths qualifications.


The Impact

The impact on Jess’ life has been great, Jess is now in a paid secure job in which is utilising her skills and qualities. Jess also enjoys this job and is liked and respected by her colleagues. Jess is now contributing back to the community, become more independent all of which has had a positive effect on her emotional well- being.

It has had an impact on her family as she is now becoming independent. Mum has less expectations of her and has become more supportive of Jess’ work. Jess pays her mother a small rent out of her wages which has a positive impact on the whole family.

The impact it has on me as a tutor is great. It makes me feel motivated, successful and also rewarded. It is confirmation that the process works and the positive effect it has on these young people and the community as a whole completely outweighs all the disruptive behaviour and verbal abuse you may receive along the way. I am a full believer that if these students were given the same opportunities as myself they would not need to be on the course. They all deserve the opportunities to reach their full potential.

Managing Disruptive Behaviours

Further reading


Written by

Jessica Follett
Steps Tutor and Maths Co-Ordinator
National Star College