Give pupils a helping hand

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Hair and beauty firms in Belper are being urged to help students with special needs gain invaluable experience by offering them a work placement.

Alderwasley Sixth Form Centre has been giving pupils the chance to gain various industry qualifications at its new state-of-the-art hair and beauty salon.

The groundbreaking initiative sees youngsters up to the age of 19 who have complex speech, language and communication needs, including Asperger’s Syndrome learning industry skills in a purpose-built facility.

Now, a number of students are being put forward for on-the-job training and firms in the area are being asked to help the young people take their next steps on the road to employment.

Jennifer Fearn, marketing and communications manager for the SENAD Group, which owns the school, said the students involved already have a wealth of experience.

“The salon takes appointments from both internal and external customers,” she said.

“Students also benefit from working as a team and the interaction they get through working on the practical element of the course.

“Often this is done through paired activity which for some of our students is quite a big thing for them as they find it difficult to build relationships and do not enjoy the experience.

The young people also work on setting a professional image in both industries this includes body language and facial expressions, appropriate dress code and personal hygiene.”

Students learn their high standards from hair and beauty tutor Debbie Warren who has more than 30 years’ experience as a hairdresser. Among the courses tackled are BTECs in hairdressing and beauty therapy and AQA awards in hair and beauty.

Among the practical skills they gain are shampooing and conditioning, colouring and lightening hair, perming, cutting women’s and men’s hair, blow-drying,rollers, French plaits, twists, braids, curling and straightening. In beauty salon training they learn how to apply make-up, skin care, hand care, hand and foot manicures and eyebrow shaping.

The various disciplines are also learnt by pupils at mainstream schools who visit the salon to benefit from the learning opportunities.

Ms Fearn added: “You truly get the feeling of being in a professional salon environment. To date four students from Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth have studied hair and beauty at the centre and have successfully completed their studies.”