Photo of Duncanrig DEC students on Turner Townsend Site

“The net-zero McDonald’s week had everything a young Nacro learner needs to express themselves, industry engagement, research, being creative, hands-on work, environmental issues, problem-solving and sustainability. That’s before they learn about engineering, planning and teamwork.”

Chris Stevenson, Civil Engineering Teacher, Newcastle

On 20th-24th June, 2022, COYO ran a virtual work experience programme for learners from four Nacro Centres across England.

20 young people (17 males and 3 females, aged 16-21) took part in the work experience. Over five days, they completed a total of 30 guided learning hours.

About Nacro

Nacro is a registered charity and not-for-profit third-sector training provider, delivering a wide range of programmes across its education portfolio.

This includes 13 Education and Skills Centres across England, Totton College as its fourteenth skills centre, Prison Education in the West Midlands in partnership with Novus, and six subcontractors delivering 16-18 Study Programme.

The range of programmes include – Study Programme, High Needs and Apprenticeships. It also delivers non-enrolled 14-16 provision by local arrangements with schools and local authorities. 

Photo of Duncanrig Secondary School, the DEC School adopted by Turner Townsend

The majority of Nacro’s learners have multiple barriers to learning, with almost half of all learners declaring a learning difficulty or disability on enrolment and above average number of learners eligible to free school meals and entitled to a vulnerable or discretionary bursary.

75% of learners at Nacro have one or more social disadvantage indicators.

Despite these barriers, the majority of learners have high aspirations for what they can achieve once they have started with Nacro, supported by committed, skilled and experienced staff.

Male Female

Involved in the criminal justice system

Learning Difficulty/Disability (LDD)

In Care Care Leaver Free School Meals (FSM)
59% 41% 11% 44% 4% 3% 20%

Specific on DEC Work Experience: Nine out of 20 learners were entitled to free school meals, two had EHCP, one of which has additional high needs local authority funding. 11 of the 20 learners, if in a school setting, would be classed as Pupil Premium.

What has been the impact of DEC on the school?

Daniel Adams, Lead Teacher Spalding:

“This DEC project has helped us realise that project-based learning can be applied across all study levels and can be used to develop softer skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork and communication. The levels of engagement with such a project are unsurprisingly higher than that of traditional maths and English sessions, and with the combination of such a high-profile employer/business has garnered the attention of learners and tutors alike.”

Chris Stevenson, Civil Engineering Teacher, Newcastle:

“DEC is great for Nacro because learners find out what employers expect. It brings their coursework to life and gives them a better idea of why they need to work hard and complete the course to get to where they want to be.

The net-zero McDonald’s week had everything a young Nacro learner needs to express themselves, industry engagement, research, being creative, hands-on work, environmental issues, problem-solving and sustainability. That’s before they learn about engineering, planning and teamwork.”

Elaine Bentley, Lead Teacher & Construction Teacher, Chatham:

“Students working together on a DEC project which focuses on a diverse range of areas, showcased the wider choice of employability skills within the sector. This is invaluable, as students got the opportunity to have a taster of the wider sector.

The opportunity to meet and hear the skill set journeys of professionals enabled students to consider a wider range of employability opportunities, this was invaluable for our students.

Work experience is key for our students; it outlines the basic requirements for being work-ready – developing wider key skills such as timekeeping, working with others, problem-solving, assessing, self-reflecting, active listening, and communication, to name but a few. It encourages students to consider their options and their next steps.

Our students (who had never worked together before, from different courses and levels), engaged in a diverse range of discussions on sustainability, worked together well as a team, planned the design collectively and listened to their peers’ points of view.

One of our hair students who joined the work experience has now opted to change her path and join our construction level 2 programme next year.

Simon Ashton, Assistant Principal, Nacro:

“Our Newcastle Centre is a DEC School and had success delivering the DEC qualifications over the past two academic years. Being able to widen the access to DEC and the Work Experience to learners from our other national Centre’s is great.

The Mcdonald’s project was a great success, and we look forward to planning at least one DEC work experience opportunity for the learners nationally during the 22/23 academic year.”

DEC work experience students at Nacro

What value does DEC bring to students?

Daniel Adams, Lead Teacher Spalding:

“This work experience challenged learners to develop their communication and problem-solving skills throughout the project, which relates to all areas of employment and further study. It provided the right level of stretch and challenge for all participants.