Two Oxfordshire-based entrepreneurs and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership joined forces earlier this month to boost the career prospects of autistic students at LVS Oxford. The session on Thursday 2nd November allowed sixth formers and Year 11 students at the school to consider different career options and map out how to acquire the additional knowledge and skills needed to achieve their long term career goals and live independent lives.
The workshop was organised in partnership with the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and its Skills & Enterprise Adviser Susan Ledgard-Hoile said: “It was a real pleasure to work with the students at LVS Oxford. They were very engaged, asking intelligent, challenging questions, and demonstrating a real interest in the subjects.”
The first careers session was led by Mark Calkin, Technical Director for Emerald Cube based at Oxford Science Park. The company was established to provide applied technology solutions for internet connectivity and networking in challenging environments. Mark explained to students that his company’s products can be used to implement live and recorded video inspection from air, land and water. One of their most challenging projects to date has been in the area of wildlife conservation, installing technology to protect the critically endangered black rhino population from poachers. Mark brought along examples of the technology that they use and students were able to quiz him on the products and what they deliver for the company’s clients.
Learners also worked with Julia Cook, locally based fashion designer and owner of two shops in Chipping Norton. Julia explained that she was creative at school but didn’t do well academically. However, she believed in her talents, and her determination to succeed led her to take children’s clothes samples that she had designed to Paris as she touted for business. Today, she designs children’s clothes for Tesco and runs a successful children’s boutique called Tickittyboo. Her Tickitty business has expanded to a second shop, Tickittyshake, a bright, colourful café and sweet shop where customers can create their own shakes and smoothies.
Students were able to demonstrate their creative talents during Julia’s lantern building workshop. They designed and decorated lanterns made from plant trays, willow and tissue paper, and got a real sense of achievement out of producing a stunning product in such a short space of time.
Nigel Beales, LVS Oxford’s Assistant Head, was delighted with the success of the workshop and said: “It is incredibly powerful when students are able to interact with professionals from different industries. Hearing what they do, and how they got where they are today, is really inspiring and helps our learners to decide what they want for themselves in terms of further studies and careers. All our 6th formers will participate in work experience and this event is one of a series of workshops and discussions aimed at supporting them as they prepare to take up work placements.”