With the Christmas holidays around the corner, our thoughts are not only on seasonal celebrations; we’re also celebrating our students’ fantastic Autumn term!
This term has seen our Inspired Directions School grow to the largest it’s ever been. The school offers full-time, tailored education for local young people who struggle to access mainstream education and need extra support to fulfil their potential. With referrals increasing, we’ve been finding new and creative ways to support our students’ learning, challenging them to expand their horizons.
Thanks to our wide network of third sector partners, we are able to tailor each student’s learning to their interests and aptitudes. Our students have been participating in a dizzying range of hand-on activities this term: some have been learning about nutrition and commercial catering at the Shoreditch Trust’s Healthy Living Centre; others have been working on a construction project at Circle Housing’s Construction Training Centre; and our ongoing music project with the School of Hip-Hop – led by renowned artists Flo and Reveal – has been producing some great original work. Some students got their hands dirty at the Robin Hood Community Garden, while another cooked meals for refugees at the Hackney Migrant Centre.
But it doesn’t end there! One of our most exciting projects this term has been the start of rehearsals for a performance at the Soho Theatre next March. Our students will be performing Blackout by Davey Anderson as part of the National Theatre’s annual Connections youth theatre festival – we’re all extremely excited about seeing our students performing in such a celebrated venue!
Another high-profile project has seen students take to the airwaves on local digital station East London Radio. Every fortnight, students and staff have brought a range of topics to life, punctuating their lively debates on issues such as the bombing in Syria and the commercialisation of Christmas with a diverse mixture of their favourite music. The show’s been a great success, with student Ahmed, 14, showing an incredible aptitude for broadcasting – shepherding his fellow students through the items on the line-up and making segues like a seasoned professional. It’s also seen the students taking to the streets to record interviews with local people – including local busking legend, Mike Down Dalston Lane! Click here to hear their show from the 20th November – more shows will be uploaded soon.
Trips to the Imperial War Museum, Epping Forest, the Black Cultural Archives and the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge broadened our students’ horizons even further. The wheelchair rugby tournament was particularly highly rated by students, who met and interviewed some of the athletes taking part.
Two of our students have blossomed on their long-term work experience placements this term. Shennelly, 15, has been helping out at a nursery in Lewisham every week. Her work there has earned glowing reviews from the staff, and the placement has helped her develop her caring and social skills. Her fellow student Arron, 15, has been learning the ins and outs of bicycle maintenance at Hub Vélo in Clapton – the placement has been a great opportunity for him to put his natural talent for understanding machinery to good use.
All this exciting learning has clearly been paying off: our students did brilliantly in their recent exams, with impressively high marks being achieved by almost every student in their Entry Level 3 tests. We’ll be putting them to the test again with Level 1 exams and the start of GCSE preparation in the Spring term!
As the chilly Dalston winter starts to bite and we snuggle into our handmade scarves – the school has been gripped by a knitting craze this term, with students and teachers alike getting creative with their knitting needles – our thoughts turn to 2016, when we’ll start working on new projects and building on old ones. Expect a mixtape, music video, fruit and veg patch, poetry anthology and much, much more besides from the Inspired Directions School in the new year!