Optalis partner Activate Learning wins award

The award, presented at an event in London on 22 March, recognises the work Activate Learning colleges in Reading, Banbury and Oxford do with partners like the Optalis Supported Employment Service to improve life chances and create sustainable job opportunities for students with learning difficulties or disabilities. Since launching in 2013, the programme has supported over 1500 Berkshire and Oxfordshire SEND learners with work experience.

The Activate Learning programme is unique in that it offers every SEND learner work experience on campus at a college-run learning company; at an off–site work placement with a partner organization including up-and-coming SMEs and leading national players; on an external supported internship programme working towards a paid position; or a combination of these options.

Optalis' Supported Employment Service developed a groundbreaking course (Ace@Optalis) for Activate Learning’s SEND Learners that has been successfully running since 2014.

Former Reading College SEND student Lewis was supported through the programme and now works in admin at Optalis. Lewis says: “My job here makes me feel happy and confident as well. I recommend the course to other students because you can get a job... it helps you in life. I’ve been working here for nearly five years now and now I work here independently. The enjoyable part of my day is just working hard and being there for others, other people.”

Donna Morgans, Optalis’ Supported Employment Service Manager, commented: "We are extremely proud to be an integral part of this award. Throughout the last five years we have seen our students’ confidence, skills and abilities increase; their transition from college into work has been truly inspirational. By combining a first class SEND department and the expertise of a successful supported employment service, year on year we have enabled students to achieve their employment goals and aspirations. A very proud moment for us all!"

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