Children in Need – First Place Training Bedford

Joining in the spirit of Children in Need, staff at Bedford First Place Training, ever eager to dress up – came to work in a variety of interesting outfits.

Our learners were less enthusiastic about dressing up but did appear to enjoy the colour and humour of the costumes.

Donations were made and we made a total of £32.00 for Children in Need.

Fiona flung together an outfit which would have put Johnny Depp to shame in Pirates of the Caribbean.    Ben wore his Reindeer Onesie and kept the hood up most of the day.  Judith as St George chanting “I’m handsome, I’m brave, I am the best!  I even have a hairy chest”.

Darshan shone as a ghostbuster in her brilliant white industrial overall.  Tyanne looked coy in her school uniform complete with freckles on her face.  Luke wore his onesie and at times fought for air as he zipped it up to the tip of his head.  Clutching his beloved SpongeBob he rattled the donation tin throughout the day.

The causes that are supported by Children in Need are amazing and we should continue to support in bigger and better ways.

Halloween and Diwali Celebrations at First Place Bedford



“So, we will all dress up – yeah”?  we said at the end of term in our staff meeting.   First day back on 31st October, witches and ghouls signed in as usual.  Were they inspired by ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ on Saturday night?  The makeup on Luke and Fiona was outstanding.  Ben’s costume was a winner.

However, the funniest thing was the learners filed in as usual without a bat of an eyelid.  OK ………… as Judith tried to pick up board marker with long green talons.  Popping into borrow something from Ben to see him teaching in his long dark Ozzy Osborne wig that draped over his face and witch’s hat.  Learners following his instructions as if nothing was amiss.

By the afternoon, Ben had transformed into a Werewolf and Paul had nicked the wig, playing on his air guitar.  The learners carved out their pumpkins with gusto and small lights glistened through the holes.  It was so nice to celebrate and dress up – any excuse here at Bedford!


On Friday 4th November we celebrated Diwali with our learners.  The adult learners joined us too.   It was a short video following the preparation for Diwali by a family in India.  It explained the reason for Diwali: Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil.

Three members of the group had celebrated Diwali this year, watching firework displays and going to the Gurdwara.  Charan from the adult learners who is a Sikh explained why and how they celebrate Diwali even though it is  a Hindu celebration.  The Sikhs call it Bandi Chhor.

To top the session off delicious spread of fresh samosas, chutney, pakora and cakes was laid out for all.


Induction Programme 2016-17



After the success of the diverse Induction Programme last year, it was decided to put on a six day Induction Programme over two weeks at the start of September, 2016 in Bedford.

New and potential learners were given the opportunity to meet each other, meet staff and participate in various activities both in and outside of the Centre.


Code Of Conduct  & Classroom Behaviours

English & Maths are Fun

Team Building activities

Fitness Day out at the Park



On the first day we introduced the Code of Conduct and expectations of staff and learners.  This year we also ran a short interactive session on personal hygiene.  In the afternoon Judith ran ‘English is Fun’ which included some videos and study of the English language and the importance of communication.  After lunch we set off with David Fisher (Personal and Fitness Trainer) to the local Park for some team building activities.  It was a nice hot day so shoes came off to bounce on the fresh grass whilst trying to cross an imaginary river.

Day two was opened by Beds Police who gave a talk and guidance on safeguarding when imagery is involved.  It was well received by our learners.

Day three was led by Ryan Gray from Up Rising (Student Voice) helping our learners to vote for their student rep and explaining the significance of it.   In the afternoon Janet ran ‘Maths is Fun’ with very practical based tasks around the Centre.


Jobs Hub – Go to Jobs

Outdoors activities – Rounders in the Park

Local MP Richard Fuller visit –

Fun team building activities

Motivational speaker

 We started the second week at the local Job Hub where learners were shown how to job search successfully and do a SWOT analysis.

On the penultimate day we started with Aimee Sykes (Quality and Curriculum Manager) delivering a session on Parliament.  This was then followed by a visit from Richard Fuller, our local MP, as the guest speaker.  He ‘got down’ with our learners in an informal and humourous discussion, which both appeared to inspire them and ignite recognition of what an MP does and how Parliament works.  He was happy to answer questions such as “how much do you earn”, “what do you think about Donald Trump” and “do you have any pets”?  But more importantly, he explained the new scheme he is promoting in Bedford on a ‘Youth Enterprise’ course, inviting us to these sessions and the Houses of Parliament. Mr Fuller’s engagement and discussions had a profound effect on our learners and it was wonderful to see them react so positively to his visit.  We will certainly be planning a trip to Parliament in the near future.

The last day of induction was closed by an inspiration and motivational speaker, Mark Clarke.  Mark held learners and staff spellbound with his rallying encouragement ‘to drive yourself forward’ and ‘to never give up’.  Mark is the CEO of ‘The Walk to Freedom Limited’, a successful community based organisation committed to addressing the issues surrounding drug and alcohol dependency.  Mark drew on his own experience of combatting drug addiction, incarceration and homelessness to encourage the leaners ‘to be the best’.  This session was so successful that we will arrange a subsequent workshop to be facilitated by Mark’s colleague who also has a great passion to see young people tap into their true potential.

We recognise the importance of Induction being diverse, interesting and informative to hopefully gain the commitment of our new learners.  Well done to all staff for working hard and making our Induction Programme a huge success once again.

Student comments:

“I felt comfortable and I also felt like I could ask anything and I got useful answers.”

“I thought the MP was really chilled and did not act too professional so we didn’t feel too intimidated”

“It was very interactive and lot of interesting stuff and got to learn other stuff”

“Mark Clarke was really energetic”


Higher Needs Learner Event


“Higher Needs Learner Events;
Chilterns School and Woodland’s School Autumn 2016

Lovely for First Place Training to be invited to these communication events at each school with parents, carers and learners.

Angela Killeen, Learning Inclusion Lead said ” It was fabulous to meet so many charming young people and chat with them about their interests and future plans”

First Place Training are already starting to invite learners in for transition visits for the September 2017 higher needs learner admissions.

Celebration for First Place Bedford & Kempston Learners


First Place Training Bedford & Kempston jointly hosted a Presentation Day event to celebrate the success of our learners over the past year. Our learners did not disappoint us, they all pushed the boat out with their positive attitudes and their smart attire. Guests who attended this event were parents, carers, support workers, work placement providers, school representatives, referral agencies, key partners and prospective learners.

Mark Pike our CEO and MD for First Place Training, opened the event with his welcoming speech and then handed over to Ian Rowe, our Key Speaker. Ian is a very inspirational speaker who engaged the audience in his attempt to become, as part of a crew, the first boat to row unsupported across 3000 miles of Atlantic Ocean in 30 days. He covered the highs and lows together with challenges and related these to everyday events. We think that everyone will remember the “yellow bucket”! Ian’s powerful story certainly left us all feeling encouraged, inspired and a bit emotional!


Learners presented a fantastic video capturing what they have done and achieved whilst they have been at First Place Training. It was great for learners to be able to share their experience which clearly demonstrated their success and what positive engagement and support they have taken away from being with First Place Training.

This was followed by Ian presenting learners with their certificate of achievements. Special awards were given to learners who excelled in their respective vocational areas and also to the “Learner of the Year 2016”.6

Ben Yates retained his record for the second year running and received the ‘Tutor of the Year’ award. This special award was presented to Ben for his exceptional support and assistance to learners and the Centre alike.

We ended the event in the best way possible, with a mouth-watering refreshment spread.
Well done and thank you to everyone who was involved in the planning and organising of this event, and congratulations to all our learners – this event was to celebrate you! We would like to thank personally all of you that attended to support these young people and celebrate in their success. We hope everyone enjoyed the day, from the feedback received thus far it looks like this will have to be made into a yearly event!



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Summerfield Railway

First Place Training are delighted to be working in partnership with Summerfield Miniature Railway, a new setting for work experience for higher needs learners. The range of activities for learners to experience is vast from: construction, track working, gardening, painting and maintenance, to housekeeping in the café and mess rooms for the volunteer staff. Angela Killeen,the Learning Inclusion Lead, says “This is a great opportunity for those higher need learners to make a real contribution in a stimulating work environment. The setting, is also very good to serve both Bedford and Dunstable learners. It is a pleasure to support this amazing setting run by volunteers on their maintenance days each Wednesday. The Dunstable learners have started work this April and are aiming to towards supporting a Running Day this June.


Positive Feedback from Work Experience Employers


Shazwan Amir makes his mark with A4S

“Shazwan has been on work experience at A4S since February this year. He is always punctual and polite and respectful and has proved himself to be hardworking and willing to have a go at new tasks. He works independently most of the time and his work is effective and very helpful to us. Shazwan is friendly and has made an effort to be sociable with all the staff and we enjoy his sense of humour!  His confidence has increased greatly since being with us.  It is a great help having him work with us.

Marian Boland

work experience


the reuse centre

Alex Markovic shines at his interview with the ReUse Centre. Alex has been offered a volunteer placement at The ReUse Centre in their IT section.

Jayne Hall, Volunteer Coordinator, at the The ReUse Centre was really impressed with Alex’s interviewing skills and the following are her comments:

“I was so pleased to have met with Alex who is a thoroughly delightful young man. He asked insightful questions and gave good answers to the questions he was asked. His skills appear to be exactly what we are looking for in an IT volunteer and he has an excellent problem solving and a have-a-go attitude. He met with the IT volunteer supervisor Ray, who showed him around the IT workshop and then, he met some of the other volunteers who work at Gadsby St. I was impressed by his level of social interaction.”

springfield lower school

Springfield Lower School provides excellent support and work experience to our learners.

Two of our learners Naseeb Kaur Takk and Anil Pradeep work in this vibrant school.  Francesca Vasso, their supervisor had the follow comments for each of them:

“Naseeb has shown great confidence during school placement. She works well as part of a team, she has shown professional qualities and is capable at helping a wide range of children. She also, always uses her initiative and thinks on her feet.

Anil works hard in all aspects and takes on all responsibilities around the classroom. He has shown great creativity skills and is a great communicator.”

Parkside Residential Home

Alisha Kumari Dehar has equally shined at her work placement with Parkside Residential Home. We have received positive feedback from her supervisor Shirley Humphreys:
“Alisha is working very well with residents and staff members.  Friendly and helpful, always smiling and she asks questions if she is unsure.”

Working in Partnership with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Bedford Fire Service

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service are facilitating a 12 week Fire Forward Course for First Place Training Bedford learners. The aims of the programme are to increase the learners’ confidence and self-esteem, develop their communication skills, assist with understanding self-discipline and respect and working in a team. The course is well underway and positive feedback has been received from all the learners attending the course. Both First Place Training staff and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service have also commented on the learners’ engagement and enthusiasm towards the course activities.

Marlika Anderson, the Community Safety Officer (Youth) at the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said,

“So far I have enjoyed working with First Place Training.  I was unaware of First Place Training until a member of their staff made contact with me.   Their young people have been a pleasure to work with and always seem thoroughly engaged.  I look forward to more exciting adventures with First Place Training.

A close working relationship has developed between the two organisations and the success of this pilot programme will lead to similar provision being rolled over at First Place Training Dunstable Centre.

fire service