Annie, February 2022
After studying at Loughborough College, Annie is pursuing her dream of working with children on the Supported Internship programme.
Annie joined Sense College Loughborough in September 2018. She'd initially looked at Leicester College but, felt she needed a specialist setting, so she moved from a mainstream school to Sense. Annie, her family and staff all knew Annie had the ability to study on a mainstream college course, but just needed a bit of extra support due to her physical, social and emotional needs. Annie didn't feel very confident when she joined the college, so rather than go straight onto a Loughborough College course, with support from Sense College, Annie spent a year developing her skills and experiences and had a gradual transition into Loughborough College the following year. This involved visits to Loughborough College, joining classes and meeting staff.
Annie struggled talking to new people and initially found it difficult when she started at college. She'd had limited social interaction at school but at college people wanted to speak to her. Gradually Annie found that everyone generally gets on and there are always people to talk to.
Annie initially started on the childcare course but felt that is wasn't for her. At the end of the first year she decided to swap to a teaching assistant course which more closely matched her job goals. Annie started the Level 2 teaching assistant course and really liked the idea of working with primary school aged children. When she wasn't at Loughborough College she took part in independent living skills and mobility training, so she could be move confident getting over there independently. Annie also worked in the college enterprises, as well as working in a school on a work placement.
Annie made the choice to travel independently across to Loughborough College. At Loughborough College, staff from Sense College provided one to one support in class, as well as support out of class. Annie was really keen and self-motivated so she didn't require much support out of the classroom. Annie's confidence gradually started to pick up through her time at College.
Annie has worked hard on skills to manage her emotions. Annie does still get stressed but has got far more coping strategies. With support she has developed appropriate coping strategies for the workplace. Staff have helped Annie to talk about her feelings, introducing her to prompt cards to help her talking. She also feels comfortable wearing headphones as a mechanism for blocking out the environment, or listening to repetitive music when she needs to regulate and re-set herself. Annie has found swimming is really good physically and emotionally for her, so it was tough when pools were closed in the height of the pandemic.
When Annie completed her Level 2 course and it was clear she was aiming for work, so she moved onto the Supported Internship programme.
The pandemic meant it was harder for her to have experience in an external school environment, however she was able to do an internal work placement at College as an Education Support Worker.
This year, Annie has been spending two days a week at Ashmount local special school, for her Supported Internship programme with the remaining day doing Maths, English and IT. Annie explains with a grin "mum doesn't like me to use this phrase because she says I am already a useful member of society, but I just want to get out there and feel like I'm making a difference and be a useful member of society." Speaking with Annie, she couldn't have imagined going on work placement, let alone two days a week and travelling there independently, when she first started at College. The College is really hopeful Annie will move into work.