Supported Internships

Award winning Supported Internship programme for Round Oak school students.

September 2013 was the start of a transformational journey for four Round Oak School students, as they embarked on a pioneering Supported Internship programme at National Grid in Warwick. The programme, ‘EmployAbility Let’s Work Together’ was developed as a partnership project to support the future employment needs of young people with additional learning needs and disabilities.

Round Oak School is a broad spectrum special needs school for 11-19 year olds. As a school we are passionate about raising the ambition and aspiration of our students and providing sustainable support routes into employment. The current employment rate for people in the UK with additional learning needs and disabilities is just 7%. This figure is tragically low which is why, in partnership with National Grid, we have developed this programme.

In this pilot year our Interns, all of whom have a statement of special educational needs have spend a full academic year studying and working at National Grid House, Warwick. Students have been supported through a number of internships by two TSI trained job coaches. Placements have included Reception, Safety Sustainability and Resilience, Gas Transmission, Reprographics, Customer Liaison, Corporate Affairs and Information Systems. As well as working they have all studied for a BTEC in Skills for Life, Skills for Work as well as Functional Skills Maths and English.

The results of this programme have been nothing short of life changing for the Interns. They have grown hugely in confidence; have developed their social and emotional skills as well as developing some incredible work based skills. More than anything they now dare to have ambition and feel that they have the right to aspire to a fulfilling and successful future.

Philip Lockwood Jones, an Intern from Leamington Spa said, “When you have special needs doors close. This programme has given me the opportunity to show that I have got skills and abilities”. Taurai Horton, another Intern also from Leamington Spa also added, “This programme has given us a platform to develop and learn important life skills in an environment like no other. The programmes impact on us has been life changing and will give us the best chance of leading a fulfilling and rewarding life”.

In recognition of the success of this pilot year, the programme was shortlisted and then won the National Grid Chairman’s Award for Inclusion and Diversity. One lucky Intern, alongside National Grid colleagues, was able to attend the Awards ceremony and received the award on behalf of the rest of the team. This was an incredible experience for the Intern, but also a public recognition of the immensely positive impact that this programme is having on the Interns, Round Oak School and National Grid.

Following such success the programme is set to grow, offering more Internship opportunities to students in the Coventry, Warwickshire and Hinckley area. Over the next few years we aim to expand this further afield to other National Grid sites across the country.

Jane Naylor, Head Teacher of Round Oak School said, “We are thrilled with the developments our students have made this year studying and working at National Grid. They have developed in so many ways and have proved to all that they have the skills and abilities to be highly successful in the workplace. We are delighted to say that 60% of these Interns now have confirmed job opportunities at National Grid, and are hopeful for more in the next few weeks.”

For more information please go to our website:

To the right are last year’s Interns with their Chairman’s award. From Left to right, Alex Morgan, Leamington Spa, Asif Ali, Coventry, Philip Lockwood-Jones, Warwick, Taurai Horton, Leamington Spa, Jonny Shaw, Warwick.


We are offering a one year course for students in their final year, enabling them to spend a year on site with an employer. This provides them with the skills, experience, knowledge and confidence to find paid employment at the end of the year.

During the year students learn about a variety of jobs and other employability skills, such as completing applications and having interviews. The students spend a small proportion of every day in a classroom and the rest of the day they are out working in various departments as trainees.

During this time they learn the transferable skills needed within the job market. The aim of the course is employment. The course includes a ‘Work Skills’ qualification (entry level 2 to level 2), or other appropriate qualifications included in the qualifications and credit framework.

The partners working with Round Oak School are National Grid (Warwick) and Warwickshire County Council.

The collaboration with these employers gives pupils the opportunity to be supported during their introduction to the workplace, with a real prospect of gaining employment by the end of the year.

Each year up to 9 students from Round Oak School and surrounding local authorities will enrol on the programme. There will be a well equip classroom on site at National Grid, where students are supported in the classroom by job coaches Amanda Onions and Tom Duxbury.

The project is designed to give students experience in both general and task-specific job skills. Students receive regular instruction in the workplace and are supported with independent living skills.

Pupils also learn valuable skills such as interview techniques and writing CVs, which prepares them with the skills required for the job market.

What is EmployAbility?

  • Partnership between Round Oak School and National Grid
  • Supported Internship programme for one academic year
  • Interns work and study at National Grid full time
  • Supported by Job Coaches, Interns do up to three placements within National Grid
  • Placements are mapped to the Interns skills and abilities
  • All Interns remain students of Round Oak School
  • All Interns get the normal school holidays and do normal school hours
  • All Interns study for BTEC Skills for Life, Skills for Work as well as Functional Skills Maths and English (at a level appropriate to them)

Why did we set it up?

  • Because we recognise the amazing skills and talents of our students
  • Round Oak school recognises that on the on the open job market our students are not given a fair chance
  • Because National Grid are committed to being the employer of choice for people with additional learning needs and disabilities
  • Because everyone has the right to aspire to the very best for their future
  • Only 7% of people with additional learning needs and disabilities are in employment.
  • If these students have not secured permanent paid employment by the age of 26 they are 4 times more likely to spend their whole lives on benefits

Who is it for?

  • Students year 13 onwards
  • Students who have demonstrated basic employability skills
  • Students who have the drive and determination to get paid employment
  • Students who have the support of their families
  • Students who have a statement of special education needs
  • Students who have enjoyed and been successful on the Work Inspiration Week

Skills we hope Interns will develop

  • Independence skills
  • Communication skills
  • Employability skills
  • Social skills
  • IT skills
  • Maths and English skills
  • Project management skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Team work skills

Feedback so far

  • OFSTED thought the project was excellent
  • UK Chef Executive of National Grid, “This is one of the best things National Grid has ever done”
  • Government advisor for apprenticeships, “An inspiring and innovative programme ”
  • EmployAbility has won the National Grid’s Chairman Award for Inclusion and Diversity
  • The exam board are using our material as examples of good practice across the country

Our overall aims

  • To raise aspiration across our school
  • To raise the aspiration of parents
  • Change the life outcome of our Interns
  • Support Interns in the workplace to develop sustainable employability skills
  • 70-80% of Interns secure paid employment at the end of the project

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