WORKS4U is a specialist college with Special Post-16 Institute (SPI) status, offering an alternative to mainstream education.
Rated good by Ofsted, it works to promote a safe and nurturing learning environment for young people between the ages of 14 and 25 and provide one-to-one support in developing their academic, social and independent living skills.
It supports young people who find accessing a mainstream school or college environment too much and require different levels of care.
At Works4U, which is based at the Peacock Centre on Stalybridge’s Ridge Hill Estate, they understand the circumstances of each learner is different but under the right guidance, they believe that all young people can flourish.
As a centre, it prides itself on being adaptable and helping learners to succeed regardless of the difficulties they face.
When a young person is referred to Works4U, a comprehensive basic needs and skills assessment is carried out to identify their individual requirements, with a timetabled programme formulated in accordance with their personal needs and interests.
The highly skilled staff work with every learner to provide a specialist environment that will promote each young person’s personal and academic development.
Works4U, which also has a farm in Stalybridge and Bower Fold Events, a hospitality offshoot at the football club, was founded 25 years ago by Norman Mackie as a provider of adult NVQ programmes in the care sector and various other fields.
But a decade ago there was a switch from adults to working with young people with barriers.
Norman and daughter Wendy, Works4U’s principal and CEO, both have a history of foster care and Wendy had worked with children in care homes.
The provision is split – aged pre-16 but mainly post 16.
The company has continually evolved and in recent years registered and was accredited by the Department of Education as a specialist college, one of only a handful in the North West which makes it prestigious.
Last year the specialist college, which is funded through the DoE, educated 70 young people while it has 22 staff, including tutors, support and office staff.
Some of the students have complex needed which require one-to-one tuition.
Work4U helps students into further education and apprenticeships. This year two have taken up university placements, further positive successes.
Two students to have shone are Julieanne Shotton and Matthew Mason-Boulton.
Julieanne has been with Works4U since September 2018 and is currently working on her Animal Care Level 1 qualification.
She spends the majority of her time up at Raglands Farm, tending to the animals and maintenance of the farm.
Julieanne has come on leaps and bounds since beginning with Works4U. She is always eager to learn and completes tasks well at the farm.
Alongside her work at the farm, Julieanne is also an active member of the student council. She always attends meetings and displays great communication skills, confidently suggesting new ideas.
Julieanne is part of the Works4U football team, displaying fantastic team working skills and taking part in the colleges football tournament.
Recently, she has taken up a work placement at Clough End Kennels where she attends one day a week. She is settling in very well, and there is a potential paid employment available in the near future.
Julieanne is hoping to progress to college and further education after Works4U.
Matthew is a current student at Works4U and is studying Level 1 Catering.
Matthew has a work placement up at Bower Fold Events with the rest of the catering team where he is learning the basics of cooking, food hygiene, knife skills, health and safety in the kitchen, bar work and customer service skills.
He works weekends assisting with the Stalybridge Celtic football matches, rugby matches and all other functions and events.
Matthew enjoys the hands-on learning experience of working at Bower Fold and is thriving in his work placement.
Matthew is a fantastic student and has grown so much in confidence and skill during his time at Works4U. He shows dedication and determination while working at Bower Fold and is a pleasure to teach.
He is a great peer mentor and has built positive relationships with other students and staff at Works4U. It is hoped to see Matthew continue in the catering and hospitality industry.
Matthew said: “I have enjoyed my time at Works4U where I have received a lot of support. It has given me a great opportunity including working at Bower Fold Events.”