Special school in Boston appeals to employers as it struggles to find work experience for students

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A special school in Boston says it is finding it extremely difficult to find work experience placements for its students, particularly in certain sectors.

Despite reaching out to a range of employers in the town, John Fielding Special School has managed to secure placements for only around a third of its students in the relevant age bracket.

Research for the government suggests other schools are facing similar challenges, with many finding it very difficult to secure placements in industries like engineering, construction, creative and media and health.

Laurence has managed to secure a placement working on a fundraising project at Boston Stump

Campaigners say good work experience placements that match a students' interests, ambitions and skills make it much more likely that they will go on to secure paid work. Research shows that for adults with a learning disability, being in paid employment reduces the risk of social exclusion and enhances quality of life.

But according to the most recent figures, only around five in every 100 people in the region who are receiving long-term support for a learning disability are recorded as being in paid employment. The East Midlands has the lowest proportion in England.

The reasons given for why work experience placements are not available for young people with special needs vary by sector. Health and safety is often cited as a particular concern for the construction industry, while patient confidentiality and safeguarding can present difficulties for the health sector.

John Fielding Special School says many businesses it approaches simply do not reply. Staff are appealing to employers in the area to work with them so they can address any concerns. They say effective work experience placements bring huge benefits to both the student and the employer.

Whilst we have had a couple of really great placement offers for our students, we are really, really struggling to find companies in Boston that are willing to take on our students for work experience and it’s really disheartening for staff and pupils. Especially when we are hoping to give our students meaningful experiences that will encourage them to want to go to work in the future.

Anna Laverty, school liaison officer