Teachers, employers and support

Raising Aspirations at Woodley School and College 

Raising Aspirations at Woodley School and College

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 

Woodley School and College is a Kirklees Local Authority aspirational, inclusive and outward-looking special school in Huddersfield, for children aged 5-19 with complex autism. Woodley ' s Raising Aspirations project aimed to set up a new college company called 'CollegeCanDo '. This enterprise would allow students to design and craft products that can be sold to college visitors, families, and the local community.


  • Pupils worked towards qualifications, including ASDAN Employability qualifications.
  • Pupils completed the ASDAN Expressive Arts Short Course.
  • Gave pupils an opportunity to earn money and real work related opportunities.
  • Demonstrated the benefits of having employment and earning money.
  • Pupils had meaningful work experience to add to CVs and job applications.
  • Build student aspirations.
  • Collaborate with local employers to reassure pupils that local employers do understand their needs and are willing to work with them.

Woodley's RAP2 project proposal focused on removing some of the many barriers faced by young people with SEND when they leave full time education. These barriers included

  • Young people with SEND are less likely to achieve qualifications.
  • Young people with SEND are more likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training.
  • Tendency towards a lack of aspiration from the young person or their family/carers.
  • Uncertainty and fear of whether an employer will be supportive of their needs.

'CollegeCanDo' is an enterprise opportunity for young people that will meet their needs whilst also using their personal interests to engage them in a practical and creative project with links to local employers. The project was designed to equip pupils with the skills and confidence to embark on employment after college.



  • Pupils began working towards a range of valuable qualifications.

  • Pupils earned money for their time through paid opportunities and contribution to 'CollegeCanDo'

  • Pupils developed skills through employer partnerships working with local creative practitioners.


The Project

'CollegeCanDo' is a multi-faceted project designed to create space for Woodley pupils to be creative and learn through practical activities. One of the main elements of the project was linking pupils with a local graphic designer. Project activities were hands-on for pupils from the beginning. This was felt by the school to be the best way to engage pupils, allowing them to have the creative independence to make their own ideas and products. The products they designed include prints, mugs, tea towels, keyrings, tshirts and cards. A graphic designer has worked alongside pupils to teach them computer and design skills, as well as skills in advertising and building a website to sell their products. Whilst creating their products, pupils have been encouraged to link their experience with employability by working towards qualifications including ASDAN employability qualifications. These qualifications cover areas of important transferable skills such as communication at work, health and safety, commuting to work and exploring job opportunities. Since beginning in September 2021, four pupils have begun working towards the ASDAN qualification, with more planned. Thirteen pupils have worked with a graphic designer and illustrator to begin creating their own products and create an e-commerce platform. As part of the project's original ambition, pupils were paid for the work they completed. Each pupil received a payslip from the school and the freedom to spend it on whatever they wished. Progress of the project has been delayed by a significant change in staffing at Woodley School and College, impacting the management of the project. Nevertheless, positive gains have been made in establishing the 'CollegeCanDo' project as a key careers focus for the school.


'CollegeCanDo' has begun to successfully use RAP2 funding to create a sustainable opportunity for Woodley pupils to engage in creative industry with confidence and enthusiasm. Although there have been setbacks in the project timeline, pupils have benefited from engagement with creative professionals. They have been supported to express themselves creatively with a hands-on creative project, whilst also thinking about their own employability, skills and practical knowledge. A key success so far has the establishment of a bank account for the project. Woodley have worked with a local bank to create an account linked to the e-commerce site being developed by pupils. This is a significant step towards ensuring the project has the infrastructure to be sustainable, meaningful and relevant for both school and pupils.


Lasting Legacy....

Despite complications, Woodley School aim to continue running 'CollegeCanDo' in the 22-23 academic year. They plan to train more staff in using creative software and crafting equipment to increase capacity to work with pupils. They will also assign a dedicated space to the project. Long term planning has begun for a pop-up shop in Huddersfield to sell their products and create real-life work experience opportunities for pupils.