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Entry Requirements:

There are no formal qualifications required but students must be committed to moving into and developing skills for employment and/or voluntary work and attend work placements throughout the year.

The programme is designed for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 16-24 who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.


The STRIDES programme can run for one to two years with opportunities to progress onto our Supported Internship programme (if appropriate).

Programme Outline:

STRIDES is a student centred, non-accredited curriculum that will provide students with the skills, knowledge and attitude required to support future employment and improved independence. The curriculum draws emphasis on creating a skills rich experience by providing students with transferable skills through a range of learning experiences.

The programme offers students the support to build on their confidence and skill set to enter a variety of job sectors. The STRIDES programme will be based at Pinewood Campus, our Employability Hub located in nearby Woodgate Valley. STRIDES provides a high quality learning experience and exciting stepping stone into the world of work through specific Employment Pathways programmes and is more business-like than educational in its feel.

Classrooms are set within an open plan office environment where you will have the opportunity to welcome visitors as part of your customer service based skills.

Our goal is to provide a learning environment which encompasses our college values of Inclusion, Excellence, Enabling, Collaboration, Integrity and Respect. The programme provides a supportive approach that develops positive behaviours and attitudes so you can become more independent and ready for working life.

Numerous opportunities will enable you to develop and become more resilient and improve self-esteem by completing a broad range of activities and sample different experiences.

Types of activities students will complete include individual and group work/ research, assessments/exams (English and Maths), presentations, discussions, handling money, cover letter writing, CV development, producing products, demonstrations, observations, role play, reflective practice and work placements.

STRIDES will support students in achieving their aspirations and EHC plan outcomes. It will help enable students to develop by means of following a structured programme of study that incorporates several different subjects highlighted below:

• Customer Service – Providing students with the skills, knowledge, and understanding related to providing excellent customer service. The curriculum aims to develop skills such as communication, confidence, self-esteem, resilience, collaboration, problem solving, decision making, use of initiative and independent thinking.

Sessions are developed to place emphasis on the attitudes and values we want our students to learn. Understanding and implementing these skills throughout, whilst embedding our own QAC values which are fundamental to providing excellent customer service in any setting.

Assisting personal development of the individual student, sessions are planned to incorporate a range of different customer service environments, both in a practical sense and as theory related topics and role play.

 Business Administration – Planned sessions to develop transferable skills, knowledge and experience in the workplace. You will achieve this through a curriculum designed to deliver a broad range of skills and attitudes, enabling you to develop and become a productive employee by building self-esteem and resilience.

Students will complete a skills audit as part of a baseline assessment, identifying areas of capability and areas for development. A vast range of activities, assignments and topics are used to develop areas identified that link to EHC plan outcomes.

• Enterprise – Students on the STRIDES initiative will develop creative thinking skills and explore what makes a successful small-scale individual business. They will also look into potential barriers of entrepreneurial concepts and how to assess these outcomes effectively. Students will achieve this through a range of relevant topics relating to economic ideas, finance and potential risk factors. Step by step, students will learn what an enterprise is, how it functions and how it can benefit people whilst identifying potential risks along the way. Students will understand risk and reward factors of an enterprise, building on their existing communication and team-work skills achieved through group work projects and research.

• English and Maths – These are the core elements that provide you with the essential knowledge, skills, and understanding that will enable you to operate confidently, effectively and enable you to be as independent in life and/or at work as abilities allow. All students are required to continue to study English and Maths unless you have previously achieved a grade C/4 in these subjects. You will continue to develop your English and Maths abilities that are relevant and relate to work and everyday life, supporting you to fulfil your potential. This will be done through a planned weekly session of up to 1.5 hours, with effective teaching and learning opportunities which meet your needs.

Students will complete a thorough diagnostic assessment in English and Maths which will identify capabilities and areas for development. The outcomes of baseline assessment will be used to create an individual learning programme which identifies the English and Maths medium term goals (targets). The goals can be accredited qualifications or a non-accredited (RARPA – Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement) which will be assessed by your tutor.

Development of your English and Maths skills are essential to enable you to have a greater understanding of why and how these skills link into everyday/working life. Giving you a greater awareness of how these skills are transferable in different situations.

• Work Placements – These will be arranged and tailored to your individual needs. Placements will enable you to experience a real working environment to further develop and equip you with the skills that you need for the workplace. You will be supported through this experience by your tutors and support staff. The aim is to provide all students with the opportunity to build confidence and gain valuable work experience and demonstrate the skills developed whilst on the STRIDES programme.

Typical Week:

A typical week will include one to two days attending a work placement with the remainder of the week spent at Pinewood Campus where you will develop your employability and personal development skills alongside the subjects highlighted above.

Work Placement Opportunities:

QAC works with some well known employers such as the BBC, The Burlington Hotel, University of Birmingham, The Conservation Wildlife Reserve, The Rep, Midlands Arts Centre and a number of retail outlets within the local community.

We provide work placements in various employment sectors including hospitality, catering, social care, administration, data entry, maintenance, housekeeping, the arts and animal care.

Each student will work closely with the Work Placement team to find the most suitable placement with support. Work experience opportunities can be internal within the College or external.

Support Subjects:

Students will also have access to timetabled support subjects and services, designed to meet individual requirements and needs, which have been identified within their EHC plan (for example, Mentoring, Travel Training, Dyslexia to name a few). It is important that these sessions are part of the student journey for a well-rounded provision.


On successful completion, students may progress onto full/part-time employment (paid/voluntary), an apprenticeship or further training/education in their desired work sector or move onto the College’s Supported Internship programme. 

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What the students say

The staff at QAC are the best they have helped me with my speech and to be more confident.

Sam - 18

Preparation for Life Student

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