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Byker vehicle maintenance scheme helps excluded pupils get back on track; Alternative education provider Nacro works with disengaged youngsters who have been kicked out of school.

Byline: nechronicle Administrator

Disengaged youngsters are accelerating towards success with a brand new motor sports and vehicle maintenance program in Byker.

Pupils as young as 14 who have been excluded from school are given the chance to change their lives by fixing up go karts and motorbikes.

Alternative education provider, Nacro, are collaborating with Newcastle's YMCA to encourage Newcastle's disinterested teenagers to grab the handlebars and fuel up their futures.

Motor vehicles tutor, Chris Stevenson, said: "The aim is to support young learners and show them how great the working environment can be.

"What they have gone through and how they have re-engaged their lives is now being used to help other teenagers change theirs."

The 50-year-old teacher, who has a Northumberland Business Ambassador award, decided to leave the professional motor industry to volunteer and teach engineering projects to schoolchildren.

In January he became the motor vehicles senior tutor at Nacro, helping children with complex learning and social needs gain the relevant qualifications to become enrolled in work.

One of the students on the entry-level course is 17-year-old student Rebecca, who was permanently expelled from school when she was 15 for poor behaviour.

Nacro's faculty manager Sheila Dillon said: "I remember when Rebecca started and she wouldn't even look at me. All throughout education she has been quiet and disengaged.

"She came in and she just couldn't talk or be in the same room as other people. She had horrendous attendance skills to start with, but now she has absolutely excelled."

Rebecca left school with no grades and now she has an entry one Institute of Motor Industry backed certificate -- as well as Maths and English qualifications.

She said: "I just wasn't engaged at school and I didn't like being put in big groups. It wasn't for me and I didn't care about it.

"I regret the way I acted then, but I am glad it happened because if I was still at school I wouldn't have been here today."

Jakob, 16, was also excluded from school for his behaviour and for "not settling down in classes", and feeling like he "didn't need to learn Maths and English."

He said: "I was put in motor vehicle classes here and at first it had been something I'd never thought about before. I'm so glad I have as it will get me a good job in the future."

Now Rebecca and Jakob are on valuable work experience placements with local businesses, and teach younger, unschooled children how to better their lives.

Since the course began in January, teacher Chris has a 100% pass rate with all necessary qualifications, and has even sent two students into new careers.

Jeff Hurst, chief executive of Newcastle's YMCA said: "These kids won't get this opportunity anywhere else. If we do not support them right now their chances in life will be so limited.

"At 12, 13 or 14 years old their education has just disappeared, without Nacro they wouldn't have anything at all."

For more information on hold to get involved with Nacro, visit: www.nacro.org.uk .

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Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Date:Nov 21, 2015
Words:512
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