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New apprentices savour life back at Excelsior


Sep 4, 2016

A bright future awaits the latest apprentices to begin their working careers with Excelsior Academy and the Laidlaw Schools Trust.

New one-year roles as kitchen staff, curriculum support workers, HR administrators, IT support and marketing and reprographics assistants at Excelsior and Atkinson Road Primary Academy, are opening up the world of work to the former Excelsior College sixth form pupils.

Abbie Wright, Shaun Dearden, Kurtis Cowan, Caitlin Teasdale and Sarah Beattie all began their new roles this week.

The pupils are employed as salaried apprentices alongside the staff who were teaching them just three months ago.

There was further good news for former pupils turned apprentices who have impressed in their posts so much that they have been offered and accepted full-time employment at Excelsior Academy.

Mahima Qureshi and Lauren Scope are both now working full-time in marketing and PR and administration respectively, while Josh Lake, Victoria Kerr and Connor Taylor have started a second year apprenticeship in sport, curriculum support and catering respectively.

Excelsior prepares its pupils for life after education through its specialism in business enterprise. The apprenticeships are part of the academy’s package of support to help youngsters pursue their careers of choice.

Apprentice kitchen assistant Caitlin, 19, rises at 6am to be at work for 7.30am. “I was a little bit nervous to start with but excited as well,” she said.

“I’m helping out with prep in the morning, chopping the vegetables and I’ve served the pupils and teachers.

“I was so excited and happy to get the apprenticeship. I’ve really enjoyed it so far and I’d like to work in a kitchen as a chef.”

IT technician Shaun, 19, said: “I was happy to get the apprenticeship because I’d been searching around trying to find the right one.

“I got told about this and thought I’d like to go for it. I went for an interview with the head of IT and an HR manager and it seemed to go quite well. I’ve set my path I want to go down and now I just need to make the right turns.”

Kurtis, 19, is settling into his new role as a marketing and reprographics assistant. “I was ecstatic when I found out I’d got the apprenticeship,” he said.

“It’s perfect for me. I know everyone here, I just live around the corner and it’s great for me to be able to work with people I feel comfortable with.”

Sarah has begun a curriculum support worker role at Excelsior’s feeder Atkinson Road Primary Academy – also part of the Laidlaw Schools Trust.

“I love it, I want to be a teacher or to work with children in future,” said Sarah, 18.

“I’ve been helping the children out if they have problems with maths or with their spellings in English.”

Abbie, 18, said: “I’m really happy. I didn’t have a Plan B, this was my only option, so it felt really good to get it.”

Excelsior Academy Executive Principal Craig Taylor said: “The Laidlaw Schools Trust goes the extra mile in ensuring its young people are given every possible opportunity to pursue their future career of choice.

‘’Our new apprentices have the added advantage of knowing the school and its employees so well which, together with the experience they will gain here, gives them a superb start to their working lives.”

Excelsior Academy and the Laidlaw Schools Trust were named top employer for its apprentice programme at the Newcastle City Council Adult Learning Celebration of Success awards in the summer.

Judges praised Excelsior’s “fantastic” work with its students to find them career opportunities.

Excelsior’s careers work includes partnerships with the Engineering Training Centre on Newcastle’s Scotswood Road and retail giant intu which owns the Metro Centre and Eldon Square.

By Emily