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Synergy sparks as Lofty Heights integrates Multiply into their courses

Thu Jun 27 2024

Claire Flowers, Education Manager and Jon Spraggons, Progress Tutor at Lofty Heights Skills Academy talks to us about their experience with the Multiply Suffolk programme. You can view the video here.

Tell us about your organisation

Claire: Lofty Heights is a CIC, there are two sides to our organisation, one side being focused on supporting those with perhaps hoarding issues or other mental health issues where we are going into the property clearing down and making sure that we are kind of returning a home to somebody where it's safe for them to come back to. Alongside that, there are numerous other contracts that they do.

The other side of the business is around the education support we provide. Through a variety of vocational academies, through a variety of options for young people to come in and have a go at different options, whether it be construction or health and social care, helping them pick thier routes on what they want to do next.

How did you hear about the Multiply Suffolk programme? 

Claire: We chaired the Suffolk Network provider meeting, which is a home for all provisions for post-16 to come to. There, we all had our little two minutes of fame to say this is what we are doing and this is the offer we have got for our young people. 

Multiply attended that meeting, so that's how our relationship was born, quite some time ago.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Multiply Suffolk programme?

Jon: Our construction course was expanding and there were some discussions between Multiply and ourselves around linking the two vessels together, because with all of our construction courses, we were offering an introduction to some practical maths element as part of that. 

Discussions allowed us the opportunity to provide young people with some more in-depth 

practical construction knowledge. This would be run by Multiply and be embedded in the different weeks of our programs.

Myself and Claire linked in with Peter (our contact) and planned how that would work and it just flourished. We have definitely expanded sessions and we're constantly tweaking what those offers are in partnership with Mutiply on how that's working.

We are all about trying to give them the most holistic experience. And the reality is, as these young people go on to an apprenticeship, they're going to have to retake their maths.The reality is that if they go into the world of work, they're going to be using these maths skills. So it's saying to them, fundamentally, maths is embedded into your job role. And so it's just sold as part of the package we now sell. Literally, we sell Peter as part of our team almost by saying this is the delivery that you're going to get a mass home be part of that. 

4: What have you and your learners gained

Jon: I think all learners were very antsy when math was mentioned during the explanation of the programme.

I had to explain it was practical maths, things relevant to the course they will be doing. So when we talk about construction and practical matters, it’s ratios linked to how we mix them up and how to use a tape measure to understand millimetres and meters, not just centimetres. 

Once you get them through the door on day one, they always come back saying, ‘that wasn't as bad as I thought’, ‘oh actually that made sense’, ‘I get why this is relevant’. Because it's taught in a different way from what it would have been taught in a standard mainstream educational setting.

Claire: I will say as well. As we move the programme forward, Peter has ongoingly developed his math sessions, for example. having them out in a car park measuring spaces and making it really real and engaging with a cohort of young people who have probably been school refusers. Or if they did go to school, they did not benefit. 

It has benefited everybody involved, because, I think even Peter would say, he has had to really consider how can teach and adapt to this particular cohort, which has led to a really good synergy.

Jon: I think one of the best feedback from the last group was when he used chocolate to teach ratios. It's different because it was practical. There were worksheets to back it up but they got to eat after the practical didn't they? Everybody loves a bit of chocolate, so they really enjoyed that.

Peter links in with me after every programme and we adjust or tweak and reflect to keep making the programme better. Another good thing was that he came in sooner just to introduce himself and to break some of those initial anxiety barriers with some of the learners. Just having those short 10-minute one-to-ones makes such a difference.

Claire: To add as well, Peter also covered talking to them about self-employment to make it real. Assuring them that if they do end up being self-employed, there is support they could tap into. He just is so flexible with how he wants to embed into our programs, it's great.

What would you say to encourage other businesses to explore the business support available through MENTA and Multiply?

Claire: Oh, do it. Without doubt, certainly Peter has been the right fit for us with regard to his personality and how he engages with people. I would say from the moment Peter came in, he saw the value in our project and he saw the value in what he could add to that project. We see the benefits of it.

He is getting young people to sit and do ratios in a maths lesson that would never have attended a maths lesson, potentially, in school before. He makes maths real, functional and he is getting them to see that maths is a natural thing that we use on a day to day basis. 

We don't need to be learning about my pythagorean theorem and trigonometry, unless we are going to be an architect, but if you want to work on a building site you do need ratios and an understanding of measurements. 

So, I would encourage anybody who is working within our sector, who hasn't got that facility to embed maths themselves, go for it. 

Jon: Definitely! I think it's just added so much more to our programme and offer by bringing in different expertise and experience. We wouldn't want to teach maths! So, Peter allowed us to expand on that offer – making it a win win. I would say to any business, give it a go see how they can do more?

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