A SPECIALIST college is changing the way that businesses in the area support those with additional needs in the workplace.

Dove House School Academy Post 16 opened its doors in 2016 to 16 to 19-year-olds with special educational needs.

It has gone from strength to strength in building business links and supporting their learners into paid employment.

The college’s second Business Partnership Awards on March 7, attended by mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Cllr Seán Keating, gave recognition to all of the employers, organisations and business mentors who contribute to the programme.

With more than 70 attendees, the evening saw many of these receiving awards as well as learners and parents sharing emotive speeches outlining their challenging journeys and the barriers they had faced, as well as how the programme, mentors and employers had supported them to gain confidence and skills needed for the workplace.

Assistant headteacher and head of Post 16, Hannah Stroud, said: “The relationships that we develop with our employers, mentors and wider community mean everything to us, we work very closely with all stakeholders to ensure we are delivering a programme useful to everyone involved and that it promotes positive economic outcomes which take learners and businesses forward, developing the skills needed in Basingstoke to meet local employment needs.

“It is our pleasure and honour each year to celebrate the amazing work that is undertaken by our partners.”

Colin Meadows MBE, provision manager for Department for Work and Pensions; Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Isle of Wight District, who attended the event, added: “The Post 16 Provision at Dove House has, since its formation, transformed the employability of pupils leaving the Academy. Not only do they maximise their potential by providing skills linked specifically to employment, they have built long and lasting relationships with local employers who increasingly recognise what an asset these youngsters can be for their business.”

For more about the programme, email h.stroud@dovehouse.hants.sch.uk.