Go Smart - Hairdressing Apprentices Supported with Personal & Social Issues

Go Smart is a privately-owned training company that contracts with Cheshire and Warrington Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to provide Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships in hairdressing. The provider recognises their responsibility for the social and health aspects of young people's welfare and for supporting particularly vulnerable young people.

Advice and guidance is offered to learners as part of their induction. An information pack called Life Options has been put together by tutors and is given out as a CD-ROM. This includes information on a wide range of issues including equality, diversity, employment rights and responsibilities, sexual health, relationships, bullying, substance misuse and money. Information relating to the vocational learning is also included in the pack to motivate learners not to misplace the information. Learners are inducted on a one-to-one basis and are given research tasks on a range of topics including personal and social issues. They are subsequently tested on awareness. Employers are also given a copy of the CD-ROM.

Following the eight-week induction programme, Go Smart tutors visit the learners every week in the workplace and encourage them to use the provider's advice and guidance services and also to access local health and advice services. Tutors have received training on sexual health from the local authority.

Success rates for learners at Go Smart are above the national average. In their recent Ofsted inspection, they were rated 'good' overall. The support for learners on social and personal issues was specifically noted: 'Learners are supported to make informed choices about their health and wellbeing. They receive very helpful information on health, sexuality, relationships, substance misuse and money management in an informative reference guide that includes useful website addresses for further or confidential help' (Ofsted 2010).

The provider has noted that since the beginning of the 2007/8 academic year until summer 2010, out of 220 learners (all female) enrolled on the programme, approximately eight to 10 (5 per cent) have given pregnancy as the reason for ending learning early, with five of these subsequently returning after maternity leave.

For more information contact: Phil Ward, director Email: hair-pavillion@hotmail.com

More case studies on this theme can be found in the Sex Education Forum briefing Foundation Learning and Apprenticeships (2010).