Y.E.S.S. sets no rigid parameters for the young people it helps. We simply require a commitment to address the issues affecting them, as well as respect for themselves and everyone who uses and works at the Centre. Many of the young people we see have been discouraged by previously unsuccessful dealings elsewhere, and for that reason, we are concerned not to overwhelm them in the first instance with 'action plans' or rigid appointment times. Nevertheless, we have a firm commitment to providing a launch pad into more formal programs of education and skills acquisition. To this end, we encourage young people, where appropriate, to investigate the possibilities open to them, as well as providing the means for them to sit the City and Guilds Functional Skills, Adult Literacy and Numeracy exams here at the centre. As the needs of the area have changed YESS began offering GCSE exams in 2004. Since that time almost 300 students have taken GCSE exams at the YESS Centre. Most of the students who are taking the GCSEs attend YESS instead of their state school.
City & Guilds is the largest provider of Vocational Courses in the country. They are recognised by companies worldwide and regarded as the benchmark for workplace skills. Y.E.S.S. sought immediate registration as a City & Guilds Centre as soon as it was formed. Since the project was founded more than 700 City and Guilds Key Skill qualifications have been earned by the students.
On arrival at YESS students are assessed in an informal interview setting. This involves a simple form filling exercise and a short test in Literacy, Numeracy and IT Skills. We then decide together the best way forward for each individual student and design their educational program. It might be just a stepping stone to college or employment or it might form part of a combination that is part-time college, employment and completing their GCSEs or GCE's with us. YESS also works with the local authorities and schools in helping provide places for students under 16 who will be at YESS for full time education for either short or extended lengths of time. Each student works at their own pace and level and has access to constant one-to-one support in their studies. YESS is unique in that it is predominantly 1 to 1 teaching with the students. Many of the students at YESS could not achieve what they were capable of in a classroom setting so at YESS each student works at their own level with individual support.
Currently, the YESS centre offers 10 GCSEs. Art, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, English Language, English Literature, General Studies, Drama, Religious Studies and Sociology. The centre also works based on the needs of individual students. For example if a student was taking Business Studies at school YESS finds the outside resources if needed to support that student in their studies. Art is a very important part of the YESS project. It gives many of our students a chance to have a creative outlet. The project often brings in outside artists to have workshops with the students. The project has also offered AS and A levels in certain subjects where ever appropriate, such as Art, English language and History. The project tries to cater to the needs and wants of the current students so as the need arise the YESS centre brings in other resources, such as for dance and music.
Legal, Housing & Benefits Advice
For a variety of reasons, many of the young people coming to Y.E.S.S. need help in their dealings with the Justice system. We regularly attend the Magistrates Court and Crown Court, working in conjunction with solicitors, the Probation Service and the courts to negotiate and ensure the most appropriate and just rehabilitative sentence plan.
We are available at all hours – night and day – to be contacted by young people when they are in need of assistance, and act as 'appropriate adults' in the case of young persons under the age of 18 being detained by the Police. In the case of a custodial sentence, we maintain contact through letters and visits, and work closely with Youth Offending Team and Probation Service Staff to ensure early release and minimise the risk of re-offending.
Although only some of the young people Y.E.S.S. assists are officially homeless, many of them face difficulties in obtaining and remaining in a safe, secure and stable home. We are a first port of call for young people with housing issues, assisting with form-filling, liaising on their behalf with the appropriate authorities and equipping them with the skills and confidence to live on their own. In cases of actual Homelessness, we work closely with a specialist firm of solicitors who have a full housing contract for legally aided work, providing not just referrals but also a practical communications link between young person and their solicitor.
In the absence of any other suitable person we may act as litigation friend in urgent Judicial Reviews in the High Court. Finding a home is one matter but keeping it can be just as difficult. Here we help with housing and council tax benefit applications and problems with disrepair, again either advised by specialist solicitors or by referral.
Y.E.S.S. provides practical support in advising and assisting with applications. We have helped obtain Educational Maintenance Grants for young people whose study requirements mean they are not entitled to other benefits. We have also assisted young persons applying for Community Care Grants, which are available to those claiming Income Support in cases of special need.
YESS encourages students not only to achieve in core skills, but also in the arts. Studying art provides a fantastic chance for YESS students to tap into their creativity and encourages self-expression.
At YESS we have a full-time art teacher and all students are given the opportunity to develop their art skills through a range of mediums and styles.
These are just a few examples of the pieces produced here at YESS. To see the submitted portfolios of some of our students, click on the links below:
Over the past 8 years the YESS project has worked with over 300 at risk youths. The YESS project aims not only to help students in the academic area but also to help them with other areas including housing and benefits. The 262 students working towards qualifications have achieved over 1200 qualifications ranging from entry level Key Skills to AS Level. Of the students working towards GCSEs on average each student achieved 4.8 with some as many as 10.
At the beginning phases of the YESS project there was a large focus on helping youth to achieve entry level qualifications as this was the need of the population being served. In the first year of YESS, on average, each student achieved almost 2 entry level qualifications. As the years progressed and the needs of the students changed the YESS project began to focus on higher level qualifications including City and Guilds Key Skills and GCSEs.
In 2004, The YESS project had a more focused effort on helping students achieve their Key Skills qualifications. In 2005, many more GCSEs were offered at the YESS project. Since starting GCSEs, the YESS students have achieved A*-C on 35% of all exams taken. Although the results for students achieving 5 qualifications at GCSE A*-C or equivalent are not as high as the local authority or England, the results for A*-G are more closely aligned.
In the past four years on average 79% of students attempting GCSE or equivalents achieved 5 or more qualifications at this level. Southwark, the local authority achieved 88%. When focusing on achieving 5 qualifications at the A*-G level including Maths and English 34% of the YESS students achieve this. This was achieved by 43% of Southwark council students. Most of the students served by YESS would not have received any qualifications without the support of YESS.
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