Specialist education provider Eat That Frog successfully applied for the grant, which will see 24 learners travel to the Spanish island over a series of three trips, each with a 24-day duration.
The participants, all of which have social, emotional, and mental health issues and need one-to-one care, will be taking on new challenges in the form of work placements, cultural visits and team building activities to strengthen their communication skills.
Eat That Frog – whose name comes from the old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll know that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day – is based in Devon. The community interest company is an independent specialist provider of post-16 and adult education which aims to provide a community benefit as well as a learning activity.
Sean Westlake, Business Development Director, said: “Torbay and Plymouth, our main catchment areas, are the highest area of deprivation in the South West region, akin to inner city London areas. Around 30-35% of our learners fit within that deprivation category and they just don’t get these kinds of opportunities from anywhere else.
“We’ve put a package together to level up the playing field, and enable them to buy clothes, towels, bags, all those things that you would buy for your child if they were going on a trip.
“We’ve met with the young people, their parents and carers, and it’s been so fantastic listening to how excited they are about this trip. The parents can’t believe this opportunity has come up, because so many SEND kids don’t get these opportunities.”
Whilst in Gran Canaria, the participants will be working with a number of local partners including a food technology school teaching chef skills, a banana plantation and a fruit picking farm. They will also be taking video footage throughout their journey, and then working with film editing studios to create personalised videos to keep and to help promote their international activities.
The young people will undertake a number of cultural trips including visiting Casa de Colón (where Christopher Columbus stayed) and the mountains where indigenous aboriginal Canary Islanders lived and carved paintings into the walls of caves, as well as eating at traditional local restaurants.
Whilst this is Eat That Frog’s first international experience, it won’t be the last. “What we’re hoping to do, if we’re successful with these three trips, is to develop a mobility consortium to work with other special needs colleges and non-standard education to try to pick up those young people who miss these opportunities,” said Sean.
“We want to put these learners front and centre and give them the chances they need.”
Eat That Frog felt that the Turing Scheme was an opportunity not to be missed.
“The fantastic thing about the Turing Scheme was recognising Alan Turing. Naming this scheme after him shows the government were really listening. A lot of our SEND learners are amazingly clever, it’s just their social abilities are lacking. If we can help them with the social part, they can find tools and ways in which to work and achieve their potential.”
Read more about FE and VET opportunities under the Turing Scheme on our dedicated webpage.