Fresh challenges await an education leader from Sunderland who has taken up a new senior role.
Dedicated Alison Maynard, 43, has swapped Sunderland College – where she lectured for 17 years – for South Tyneside College.
There she aims to expand on work she started on Wearside and also modify courses to tap the talents – and transform the lives – of people seeking a better future.
In a key development, she will try to bring disengaged schoolchildren out of the classroom and into the college by offering alternative curriculum opportunities – repeating her last year’s work in Sunderland.
She plans to work with the borough’s schools to identify pupils who may benefit from learning vocational skills instead of attempting – and failing – to gain academic qualifications.
The students will be invited to study at the college and choose from a raft of 20 courses better suited to their educational needs, including media, social care, engineering, construction, and catering.
A similar initiative enjoyed rapid success last year when run by her as Director of Vocational Skills at Sunderland College. There, about 60 teenagers, aged 14 to 16, attended courses for two half-days a week, or in some cases full-time.
Her plan to tackle South Tyneside’s Neet generation – those “not in education, employment or training” – forms a central part of her role working with those aged 14 to 19 as director of curriculum planning and learner engagement.
She also wants to put in place a provision that allows the unemployed to gain access to courses, enabling more to gain employability skills, opening new avenues to work.
Those available include hair and beauty, business, child care, music, art and design, sport, and public services.
Alison, who lives in Sunderland, said: “There is a need for some pupils to have an alternative if they are failing in the education system.
“These are children who will leave school with no qualifications at all.
“I’d worked with a lot of children who fall into that bracket and literally saw a gap in the market for this initiative.”