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'Exciting opportunities' for Norwich education charity in new partnership

Construction students at work at the St Edmunds Society in Norwich. The society has announced a new partnership with Qube Learning which will enable it to expand. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Construction students at work at the St Edmunds Society in Norwich. The society has announced a new partnership with Qube Learning which will enable it to expand. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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An education provider helping some of Norfolk's most vulnerable children hopes a new partnership will enable it to support more young people across the region.

Former Chelsea footballer Dennis Wise, front right, presents a minibus to Lorraine Bliss, front left, chief executive of the St Edmunds Society. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFormer Chelsea footballer Dennis Wise, front right, presents a minibus to Lorraine Bliss, front left, chief executive of the St Edmunds Society. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The St Edmunds Society, which offers vocational courses to young people who have struggled in mainstream education, has teamed up with Qube Learning to grow its provision in its home city of Norwich – and beyond.

Based in Abingdon in Oxfordshire, Qube Learning provides apprenticeships, traineeships and short learning courses and works with more than 100 companies across England.

At a launch event at the St Edmunds Society’s headquarters in Oak Road on Friday, Qube Learning chief executive Joe Crossley said the partnership would help the society to complete the package it already offers to its students with more employer placements.

Mr Crossley said he had been “amazed” by the society’s tutors, resources and collaborative spirit.

St Edmunds Society chief executive Lorraine Bliss speaking at the Alternative Provision: Pathways to Excellence conference, which was held at Norwich Cathedral by the society. Picture: Norfolk Constructing ExcellenceSt Edmunds Society chief executive Lorraine Bliss speaking at the Alternative Provision: Pathways to Excellence conference, which was held at Norwich Cathedral by the society. Picture: Norfolk Constructing Excellence

“But it felt like there was something missing – the last little bit in the people’s journey,” he said.

“When I looked at what Qube Learning did I thought we could complete the pathway but also give the St Edmunds Society more stability.”

He said the initial point of focus had to be “taking away as many difficulties as we can” for the students, such as mental health problems, learning difficulties or issues with their home life.

Lorraine Bliss, chief executive of the St Edmunds Society, said: “A few months ago the St Edmunds Society was not in a good place. I have been so passionate along with the staff about wanting to expand and continue for the young people.

“I am a firm believer in one size does not fit all. I’m passionate about vocational education and training and want to give people these opportunities.
“I am so excited and I know the staff are because we have a vision, and we have an opportunity to expand.”

As part of its plans Qube Learning is opening a “shop” in Norwich for the St Edmunds Society where current, prospective and former students can get guidance and support.

Mr Crossley hopes the shop will “open up what the society does to more people”.

Ms Bliss also revealed that expansion into Suffolk could be coming very soon for the society, as part of a different partnership.

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