Work experience is fantastic for life skills, making career decisions and improving employability.

But teachers and lecturers in Coventry and Warwickshire working with special needs pupils and students sometimes struggle to find enough work experience placements.

Crow Recycling has 33 years of experience offering work experience to pupils from local specials schools as well college students with disabilities. People on placement often have learning difficulties or autism. They help sort and shred paper collected as part of Crow’s commercial office waste paper and confidential shredding service. They also help sort and process aluminium cans ready for recycling and help with data inputting.

Crow Recycling has some advice for organisations considering offering placements to special needs pupils and students.

  • Special schools and colleges serving students with disabilities all have staff members responsible for work experience who will be able to discuss a possible placement.
  • The pupil or student will visit before the placement begins with a school or college staff member. The visit is chance to make sure there is a good fit between the work experience candidate and the tasks they will be doing. It’s also chance to sort out any practical issues such as access to the building.
  • Once the placement has begun the pupil or student will need a nominated staff member to be on hand to answer questions and act as mentor. That staff member will need to do their own job and be available to help the work experience person.
  • Before the placement begins find out how much support the school or college will offer the young person. Some will send a teaching assistant for the first day or day and a half. Some have staff members with the young person all the time while others will send a staff member on regular visits.
  • Consider which kind of tasks your organisation can offer. Tasks which special needs pupils and students at Crow and other organisations in Coventry do include:
  • Data inputting, photocopying and general office administration
  • Sorting paper into different grades ready for recycling
  • Sorting drinks cans ready for recycling
  • Assembling and packing car parts
  • Preparing and serving food in catering businesses and keeping kitchens clean

Crow Recycling centre manager Barbara Cowling said: “With the right support young people can learn new skills and really thrive on work experience.”