This year God has taken us on such an exciting journey, stepping into the unknown and setting up SALT.ed, our alternative education provision. We are approved by the council and work in conjunction with secondary schools to provide a place of belonging and education for young people who have been - or are at risk of being - permanently excluded from school. Our vision is to be salt and light to our community and, inspired by Jeremiah 29:11, to show young people hope and a future, by believing that there is a better way for their life and they do not have to be defined by their circumstances or the choices they have previously made. We focus on English, Maths and Science, with input from subject specialist teachers, to provide young people with the opportunity to gain qualifications so that they have the best possible options open to them once they leave school. With younger students, we work closely with schools to try and bring about a change in attitudes and reintegrate students into mainstream education.
We have had so many highs this year, from filling all our places to receiving really positive feedback from school staff on the impact we are having on their students and seeing the improvement in the attendance and progress of young people.
One highlight for me this year was with a boy who is placed with us one day a week to try to turn his behaviour around. One day, we worked together on some Shakespeare work that linked to what he was doing in school that week. The following evening at youth club, he was delighted to tell me that he had had a really good English lesson that day because what we had done together had prepared him for the lesson. Because he knew what to write, he had stayed focused throughout the lesson and therefore had not got into trouble. A few weeks later, after we had done a number of sessions together, he received an award for his focus and improvement in English at school. He has now gone back to school full time, but continues to attend youth group and access the support that we as a church are offering there.
This is just one small example which highlights how much impact a little bit of extra time and attention can have on young people who are struggling in school. I’m excited to see what God has planned for us next.