King’s Lynn Open Road expands into bricks and mortar

General the Lord Dannatt chatting with students at Open Road in King's Lynn in 2011. Picture: Ian Bu

General the Lord Dannatt chatting with students at Open Road in King's Lynn in 2011. Picture: Ian Burt. - Credit: IAN BURT

A West Norfolk charity that offers automotive training to young people experiencing difficulties in mainstream education is expanding its services.

From September, Open Road West Norfolk will also offer construction training at its site on the Hardwick Industrial Estate in King's Lynn.

The news has been warmly received by The Engage Trust, which is already in talks about making the most of the new services as excluded students in West Norfolk currently travel to Norwich to use its facilities.

Latest figures from the Department for Education show Norfolk has the highest rate of permanent exclusions in the East of England.

There were 186 permanent exclusions in state-funded secondary schools in Norfolk in 2015/16 - the latest year for which figures are available. The next highest local authorities were Suffolk and Essex with 55 and 53 recorded permanent exclusions respectively.

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Young people in West Norfolk, many of whom may struggle at school, are able to visit Open Road's modern and well-equipped facilities to learn the ins and outs of vehicle mechanics - and have the opportunity to gain industry-recognised qualifications from the experience.

Schemes are also available for 16-24 year olds who want to achieve a

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motor vehicle qualification, gain work experience in the workshop or

receive career guidance on their path to employment.

Terry Smith, Trustee of Open Road West Norfolk, will be announcing its plans to venture into construction training when Charles Watts, the High Sheriff of Norfolk, visits the charity today.

He said: 'We're delighted to be expanding our services into construction training from September. Particularly in our area of Norfolk, there's a real need in alternative provision for young people who struggle in mainstream education.

'Over time, you see the confidence and self-esteem in these youngsters grow. It's brilliant we'll be able to apply our approach in the area of construction training and that's a really exciting prospect for young people who will pass through our doors in the future.'

The Engage Trust currently offers Alternative Provision and says the move would potentially benefit a large number of excluded pupils in West Norfolk.

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