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We hear from Jordan Senior, Careers Lead at Stone Soup Academy in Nottingham. He is a personal coach and has led on Careers for the past four years. 

Innovation at the heart of our work.

At Stone Soup Academy what we do changes outcomes, it changes lives and it changes futures. As a result of our work, 100% of our students move onto education, work and training post 16. Jordan

We’re an Alternative Provision Free School Academy that works with local schools and local authorities to ensure that students who fail to thrive in a mainstream school environment have a genuine educational alternative. Based in Nottingham, we opened in September 2012 and achieved our first outstanding in May 2014, and again in 2019. 

We see innovation in all aspects of the academy’s delivery, from the use of technology in classrooms to the design of physical spaces. Many of our approaches are rooted in an understanding of the psychology of the young people we work with. 

We have embedded a culture of continuous questioning, evaluation and improvement. We are always looking at ways to innovate. Building a research and development culture to seek out new models and methods of engagement and learning is at the heart of what we do for our young people.

Teaching leadership to our young people.

Good leadership in schools helps to foster both a positive and motivating culture for staff and a high-quality experience for learners. Leading with impact helps to anticipate other people's views and feelings which is very important when working with vulnerable students. It is also important to know when to adopt different approaches depending on the situation. 

We teach leadership in a variety of ways, some obvious and some more subtle. We have developed a student leadership group and students conduct meetings every half term to go over school improvements and suggest ideas that they would like to put forward. 

We have wellbeing groups set and jointly led by staff and students, where they gather information across the academy and have meetings to implement what's been discussed. Both of these leadership groups help raise students' aspirations and give the young people confidence in the process, confidence in speaking to people, maintaining eye contact and in holding and attending meetings. 

The challenges of engaging local businesses.

Developing external relationships with business and the community has been an integral part of our development. The extended periods of work experience we run gives students an in-depth experience of work that makes them feel more a part of the business. 

The key challenges that we've had to overcome as an alternative provision has been around perception. Alternative provision can sometimes feel to parents that they have failed, it wasn’t what they wanted for their child, but we change that by showing the positive impact it has on lives. 

Perceptions of AP can vary. We challenge negative perceptions not only through words but by the actions of our students. By raising the confidence of our young people they are able to step into a big established business and feel like they belong and in doing so they change opinions. We started with one company who we linked with and as a result of the work we have done, we now work with over 10 established large companies. 

Work experience can turn into job offers.

We have had a number of students where their work experience programme has turned into a job with the business they worked for. 

This is not something that should be overlooked as it means that our learners have overcome adversity and built up the resilience to step into unfamiliar surroundings and thrive, building confidence along the way and gaining employment, creating their own unimagined futures. 


Stone Soup were nominated as one our our Careers Champions within the Tacking Disadvantage theme.

Watch their story here