Teachers, employers and support

Raising Aspirations at Hazelbank School  

Raising Aspirations at Hazelbank School

Raising Aspirations Pilot 2 (RAP2) is an employability programme funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and supported by the Burberry Foundation.

The programme provided over £75,000 in funding for five schools in West Yorkshire to develop projects aimed at increasing student awareness of creative industries and skills through offering opportunities to experience the workplace and meet employers. The funding was specifically made available to schools for young people with special educational needs (SEND).

We Are IVE was commissioned to support schools as creative education consultants. Our interventions focused on supporting schools to produce creative projects. This included pre-application support, bid-writing and idea generation workshops, reflective labs and one-to-one consultancy to formulate projects with the maximum impact for young people.

The School 

Hazelbeck School is a secondary special school for students with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism. Based in Bingley, Bradford, they are part of the Beckfoot Trust family of special primary and secondary schools, aiming to create remarkable learning environments for all young people. Hazelbeck's core purpose is to create a community which empowers students to overcome barriers and flourish in their future life. Their aim is to ensure that all students leave their school with meaningful and relevant accreditation, and prepared for the future, so they can be as independent as possible and lead fulfilling lives. Their Raising Aspirations project worked in partnership with Bingley Little Theatre to develop two business-endorsed Creative Diplomas. The project aimed to improve access to arts for pupils and raise aspirations of working in the creative arts sector.


  • Develop two business-endorsed Creative Diplomas.

  • Improve access to arts in the local community.

  • Raise aspirations of working in creative arts industries.

  • Develop a sustained working relationship with local arts organisation Bingley Little Theatre.

  • Create work experience opportunities for 50% of sixth form cohort.

  • Create engagement opportunities for whole sixth form cohort.

Hazelbeck's ambition for their RAP2 project was to create opportunities for their sixth form cohort to engage in creative arts, through both creative workshops, employer encounters and work experience. Hazelbeck formed a partnership with Bingley Little Theatre to meet the needs of students for greater access to local arts and employability opportunities. Together, they created a work experience programme to develop meaningful work-related skills and engagement with a local creative employer. Their project plan included the creation of two new Creative Diplomas to develop a set of authentic and useful work-related skills to support pupils to find appropriate employment and a job in the creative industries. Future Hazelbeck students would be able to do the Diplomas, ensuring a lasting legacy of the RAP2 project within the school.


  • Partnership with Bingley Little Theatre (BLT) to share expertise and open up opportunities for Hazelbeck pupils.

  • 25 work experience opportunities for pupils outside school hours at Bingley Little Theatre.

  • Creation of two Creative Diplomas, developed in partnership with BLT, who trained Hazelbeck staff in how to deliver the Diplomas in future years.

  • Creative Diploma employer experiences. Activities including selling tickets, hospitality and theatre tech. offered by BLT to pupils.


The Project

A series of training opportunities for students and staff. Setting up a Peer Mentor scheme where young people from the Youth Theatre group to support a student from Hazelbeck. Youth Voice: To begin their project, Hazelbeck School worked with pupils one-on-one to capture their interests, needs and ambitions regarding the world of work and creative industries. Their responses informed the development of the programme with Bingley Little Theatre. Pupils were then matched to an appropriate area of work experience. Bingley Little Theatre Partnership: Hazelbeck were able to establish a high-quality, sustainable relationship with the local theatre company and arts centre. BLT committed to and delivered:

  • A series of training opportunities for students and staff.
  • Setting up a Peer Mentor scheme where young people from the Youth Theatre group to support a student from Hazelbeck.

Meanwhile, Hazelbeck School staff oversaw the development of the Creative Diplomas, including preparing drafts and final text. They also provided support and training for BLT in the establishment of work experience for young people with SEND. The partnership allowed both organisations to exchange knowledge and expertise in a way that created an impactful project for young people, as well as benefitting the school and local arts provision. Work Experience: Pupils were able to access one or more of 25 sessions with BLT, each two hours in duration, throughout the school year, according to their matched choices. The work experience included inductions, training and 'on the job' learning through completing tasks in both front and back-of-house roles. Pupils also took part in activities outside of school hours to support BLT's evening events. The programme was designed to touch on all areas of the Hazelbeck curriculum, linking creative careers with transferable skills such as social skills, communication, teamwork, problem solving and numeracy.


The work done by Hazelbeck School to match pupils with placements was an incredibly important aspect of the work experience programme. Matching the right student to the right training opportunity proved key to creating sustainable success, tailoring the experience to the pupil's needs. Many pupils had initially voiced an interest in catering, horticulture and hospitality. By working with BLT, Hazelbeck was able to link these interests to careers available in creative industries, demonstrating to pupils the wide array of career opportunities available to them, such as working in the theatre cafe, with tools backstage and in administration. Hazelbeck was able to fulfill its aims to engage every pupil in their sixth form cohort with an activity at BLT. A further 41 pupils completed meaningful work experience sessions in a wide variety of roles.

Lasting Legacy....

Hazelbeck School and Bingley Little Theatre have continued to work in partnership beyond RAP2. They are working together to set up a theatre performance for young people with SEND through participatory theatre performance, including a work experience element. The partnership between the organisations will continue to make local arts more accessible for pupils at the school and the wider community.

Students have reported a greater awareness of the types of job roles available through BLT and theatres in general. Staff have noted that confidence levels in particular have increased dramatically amongst pupils who completed work experience, with a greater sense of purpose and ambition after completing valuable work in a real work setting. The project has also identified a new approach to careers education through the creation of Creative Diplomas. These will be embedded in future work experience delivery at Hazelbeck School thanks to the training provided by Bingley Little Theatre for school staff. Staff are now more informed in how to establish and develop work experience in creative industry settings. All students in Year 13 and below will be able Lasting Legacy.... to access a Diploma from 2022.