Aiden was part of a two year SkillForce programme, working with SkillForce for one day per week. The school engaged with SkillForce to support a number of learners, who for a range of reasons, found school to be a challenging time in their lives. The learners worked with SkillForce to develop their character, building confidence and resilience, as well as key skills needed for further education and the world of work. In addition they all worked towards a range of vocational qualifications to support their positive progression. These are Aiden’s thoughts on his time with SkillForce, two years after finishing the programme, and the positive future that is ahead of him.
“Before I enrolled on the SkillForce programme I was having many difficulties focusing in my classes and behaving to the expected standard. I found myself attempting to aggravate my teachers in the hope that they would send me out of the class. I had no interest in focusing on my education. In Year Nine, the final year before the start of GCSE study, I had been excluded from school over ten times over the academic year and was also sent to an external programme for three months in the hope that tutors there may be able to assist in developing my interest in my education. I found that I had a lot of energy during classes that would make me feel restless and very excited which would lead to me disrupting the class and affecting their education which wasn’t fair on anyone.
When I first began the SkillForce programme I continued with this behaviour, as did many of my peers in the class. However we all soon started to see that this was no usual academic lesson. SkillForce combines physical activity in the form of practical assessments and games with the everyday theory work that you would find in normal lessons to capture the student’s attention and develop a relationship with them. The relationship you would find between a SkillForce instructor and a student would be very diverse from the usual student to teacher. The instructors show a genuine interest in the student as a person rather than a statistic; however they also remain professional with all students, and in my experience are always respectful of individuals.
The work that a student would undergo in a SkillForce lesson is also very exciting as they combine projects such as ASDAN, BTEC and The Skillforce Prince’s Award as well as teaching the students valuable life skills and keeping each lesson an engaging and a captivating experience. Many students complain throughout secondary education that they are not being taught things that they can apply to everyday life. This is not news to anyone, however during SkillForce lessons this would be unheard of. Whether it is map reading and orienteering to simple engineering and construction, the programme uses games and tasks to allow the students to educate themselves without even realising whilst enjoying themselves. This also encourages the students to perform better in other academic classes, for example one activity that I completed during SkillForce was one in which we had to use simple everyday materials such as cardboard and string to build a bridge which had to support a 1KG weight. This task may sound tedious or simple however it allowed us to have a good time with our classmates as we compared designs and ideas, competing against each other and improve our desire to learn. It wasn’t until after that I had realised we were using other academic skills that we would use in mathematics or wood work to complete this task, a perfect example of how the SkillForce programme allows students to flourish in all educational aspects!
I completed the SkillForce programme just over two years ago now and still communicate with my ex-instructors. I am thankful for all the hard work that they put in to encourage me to learn and work harder in all aspects of my life. I understand that I was not the perfect student; neither was I a real pleasure in general as I found my attitude was very negative. However I believe the work of the SkillForce team found positive characteristics in me and developed them to a point which allowed me to find a subject in which I could develop further and enjoy.
The SkillForce programme allowed me to find my love in acting and performance, my tutors regularly encouraged me to work harder in this subject and supported me by attending many of my performances and shows which only made our relationship in class stronger. By the end of the programme I found that I was a more disciplined student with an eagerness to learn which led me to continue my A-Level studies at the school in which I was very close to being permanently excluded from. Two years later down the time line I leave said school with three A-Levels, two of which are ‘A’ Grade and the other ‘C’. I have now been offered an unconditional offer to attend the number one rated drama school in the UK to further develop my actor training and pursue a professional career in the performing arts.
I strongly believe that the SkillForce programme had a very big impact on me as an individual and, in turn, my career path.”