5th April 2019
What is an active citizen? In our schools, citizenship is taught to address the desire to provide pupils with knowledge, skills and understanding to prepare them to play a full and active part in society. According to the Department for Education, teaching should equip pupils with the skills and knowledge to explore political and social issues critically, to weigh evidence, debate and make reasoned arguments. It should also prepare pupils to take their place in society as responsible citizens, managing their money well and making sound financial decisions. All of this is absolutely relevant to the people we meet at whatever level is appropriate to them and this relies on the development of key communication skills, outstanding teaching and a belief that everyone can be an active citizen.
At BeyondAutism this work starts in our Early Years’ Service where children are taught key communication skills through engagement and play; and parental expectation is raised towards a future where their child is an active member of society. In our schools we are challenging boundaries and ‘assumptions’ for pupils with significant speech, language and communication needs through the development of a total communication approach to enable our pupils to have a more meaningful voice. All of this learning and development is progressed within the notion of “just enough support” – ultimately, we are empowering people with autism to not be dependent on having their needs met by the adults who care for them and giving them their voice, choice and control.
Becoming an active citizen within a community is developed further with work experience opportunities from as early as 6th form. Yet we have difficulty finding work experience options that provide students with truly meaningful opportunities, why is this? Is it because businesses can’t see the value it can bring? Is it because people are nervous of the unknown?
Today we want to challenge companies to think differently. Imagine a diverse work force where jobs are carved to enable efficiency and productivity whilst enabling young adults with autism the opportunity to grow and develop within the workplace. Job carving can take a number of forms, including redesigning an existing job around the needs of an individual employee or creating a new role – we are keen to work with businesses and companies to explore this further.
Are there places within your organisation that could offer work experience or the chance to “job carve”?