College Curriculum

Foundation learning (ages 16-25)

Foundation learning students have a bespoke, fully differentiated curriculum matched to the needs of each student using an experiential curriculum.

When thinking about future aspirations and destinations, students start working towards relevant qualifications such as AQA Unit awards, 14-16 year old college programmes, BTEC qualifications and Employability English and Maths.

Work Experience
As students progress through their time at the Academy, with the help of Careers South West, they have opportunities to try out different work placements. This will support them in making decisions about their future employment and areas of interest in the fields of voluntary and paid work.

Pathway to employment (ages 16+)

To help develop skills for the workplace in real life contexts, we link young people with local employers and work-based learning providers.

Our approach is ‘learning through doing’. By trying out different work-based learning opportunities and tasters in various employment settings, our young people will experience what they do and don’t like, so they can make independent, informed decisions about their future career path.

We are the first Deaf education provision in England to offer Supported Internships. Our aim is to prepare young people for working life; to help them achieve their best in education to ultimately make the progression into employment. We aim to ensure the transition into the world of work is smooth. Young people are supported by a Job Coach who provides communication support and teaches employability skills, together with a tutor who is the key contact between the employer and the Deaf Academy.

Partner pathway (ages 16+)

This pathway is suitable for students who know which study or career pathway they would like to follow in the future.

During their placement at the Deaf Academy young people can attend a chosen partner college that offers their choice of course, supported by our Communication Support Workers (CSWs) and a tutor.

Our current learners are studying a variety of courses such as hospitality, horticulture, small animal care, hairdressing, health and social care, drama and carpentry.

In tutorial sessions at the Academy students are taught vocabulary linked to their course and can discuss associated topics alongside timetabled classes in BSL to Level 3, Maths, English and PSHE with subject teachers and a support worker. 

Supported Internships

We are the first Deaf education provider in the UK to set up Supported Internships. Our aim as a post-16 provision is to prepare our students for working life; to help them achieve their best in education and to make the progression to employment.

Supported Internships are a structured study programme based primarily with an employer. They enable young people aged 16-24 with a statement of Special Educational Needs, or an Education, Health and Care plan, to achieve sustainable employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work, through learning in the workplace. Supported Internships are unpaid, and last for a minimum of six months.

Wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. Alongside their time at the employer, young people complete a personalised study programme which includes the chance to study for relevant substantial qualifications, if appropriate, as well as English and Maths.

Welcoming a Deaf colleague into the workplace can help to enrich the culture of an entire organisation, as employees are challenged to explore new perspectives and work on their communication and cooperation skills. We find that our Deaf young people tend to be extremely adaptable, with a talent for bridging communication and cultural gaps, and strong problem-solving skills.

Academy Work Related Learning Coordinator, Emma Bird

Student Experience: Declan

Declan, who is 19 years old and profoundly Deaf, completed his Supported Internship working for a major supermarket chain on a weekly basis for 10 consecutive months. Declan spent three days a week in-store, sharing his time on the shop floor at two busy supermarket branches in Exeter city centre. His work included stock replenishment and customer care, learning the day-to-day skills needed in a retail environment. He also attended education at the Deaf Academy, studying Maths, English, British Sign Language and Independent Living Skills.

Declan says: ‘I was nervous about starting my placement, but I really enjoyed it. The staff were really welcoming and friendly – I taught them a few signs. The managers were very helpful and are relaxed in conversations with me, and helped to boost my confidence. I enjoyed working on the tills, learning about money management and handling cash within the work setting.’

Declan has an assigned job coach at the Deaf Academy who supports him in the workplace with job skills and communication. Declan’s first language is British Sign Language (BSL), and his Supported Internship placement allowed him to explore his use of BSL in the wider hearing community. As well as communicating with hearing people, he explores his Deaf identity in both the hearing and Deaf world.

Declan’s job coach Will said: ‘During his placement, Declan’s communication skills with both the customers and his work colleagues greatly improved. He is much more confident now and I am really impressed with what he has achieved in such a short time. He became part of the staff team and clearly enjoyed himself immensely.’

The supermarket has also benefitted from Declan’s time with them. Declan’s colleagues commented on how polite and helpful Declan is, and how hard he works.

    His store manager said: ‘Declan is willing to get stuck in and has gained the admiration of his peers very quickly. It was as if he’d been here for years!’

    Declan’s mum Sharon is really impressed with her son’s progress on his Supported Internship. She said: ‘When Declan began his internship he was very nervous and lacking in confidence. After a short period of time I noticed a change in him, as he began to excel in a new-found confidence. Declan is taking great pride in his achievements; he loves his work, he takes pride in it and is excited about the future.’

    After completing his internship, Declan secured a Saturday position at the supermarket, and is now moving on to a second internship with the NHS. The Deaf Academy staff support our students when considering their next steps at the end of their Supported Internship work placement.

    Possible transitions at the end of the placement include:

    • The young person transitioning to paid employment in their current role
    • The young person is offered paid employment in a similar role with a different company
    • The young person is offered paid employment in the same role and company but within their home town area
    • The young person might benefit from another year of Supported Internship and employability qualifications.