Norwood offers guaranteed jobs to JCoSS students


Norwood and the Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS) are joining forces on a pioneering health and social care BTEC, which comes with a job guarantee for graduates.

For the East Barnet school, the course is a selling point for its first sixth-form cohort, with interest expressed by 20 students, including some currently at other schools.

For Norwood - where less than 10 per cent of the 1,200 employees are Jewish - it is an opportunity to encourage pupils to consider a career in the social care sector.

JCoSS head Patrick Moriarty said the course would include biology, sociology, aspects of psychology and a significant practical element, with up to 25 days a year of work experience at Norwood, linked to an area of personal interest.

Norwood chief executive Elaine Kerr said the charity would gain "because a lot of the ideas that come through will be put into practice.

‘A young person coming off the BTEC course could be chief executive in 20 years’

"If it sparks a vocational interest, we can offer a career pathway to those who don't want to go on to do a degree in health and social care.

"How many children can leave school at 18 with the guarantee of a job? For an 18- or 19-year-old coming into the service, it is perfectly feasible that, by the age of 20 or 21, they could be an assistant home manager. By 24 or 25, they could be a home manager. That puts them in an earnings bracket of £30,000-to-£40,000. They would supplement the BTEC with NVQ courses as they start to climb that career ladder.

"It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a young person coming off the BTEC course could be chief executive of Norwood or Jewish Care in 20 years."

And the guaranteed jobs would not necessarily be in care provision. "It could be in business development, it could be in IT, it could be in marketing, it could be in quality assurance. There's a whole range of things they could be doing, depending on their career aspiration."

Where pupils went on to university, "we would certainly want them to apply to us and we'd do our very best to offer them something". For example, Norwood could provide casual work during vacation periods, with the potential for post-degree entry. Students who did not complete the BTEC could still join as apprentices. "We're more interested in the people and their attitude."

Ms Kerr is concerned by the dearth of Jews coming into social care. It tended to be viewed as more a career choice for girls and "it's not seen in the Jewish market as an attractive sector to work in. I don't think people understand where it could lead." Just three of Norwood's 41 home managers are Jewish and, while stressing that the non-Jewish managers did "a superb job," she said that "you can see the difference where there is a Jewish home manager in terms of the atmosphere and culture. They have a head start."

Mr Moriarty said the BTEC fitted the JCoSS ethos of "a school that tries to nurture a sense of community. Within the Jewish community, there isn't a school that is doing quite this course. The community as a whole needs to be looking to this sector as a place where young people see they have a career." The initiative had come from the school, "with lots of support from our governors, who wanted to make it happen".

Norwood has a longstanding relationship with JCoSS, supporting its Pears Special Resource Provision, integrating pupils with autistic spectrum disorders.

It already offers work experience opportunities to JCoSS students, ranging from helping out in care homes to gaining retail experience in the charity's shops.

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