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This is an ideal programme for students with more moderate learning difficulties and disabilities. Students work on personalised learning targets across the curriculum, in a supportive environment.

Learners in these programmes are all working towards independent living, life skills and employability skills. The  programme is built around preparing for adult hood (PfA) agenda, building bespoke individual programmes to prepare students for adult hood. The programme improves life and employability skills for 16-18-year-old and adults with special educational needs (SEN).  The content of the study programme includes key elements as identified and explained in each section.


Maths and English delivery is from pre-entry through to GCSE.  All students sit an initial assessment and diagnostic test carried out through BKSB to establish the most appropriate level of study.  Some students study the small bite size awards developed by City and Guilds dependent on individual ability.  The awards enable students to make small stepping-stones towards achievement, which help confidence building and develop the resilience to help with vocational learning.  English and maths skills embedded and integrated into all lessons deepen knowledge in a vocational and life skill context.


Life Skills develops student’s skills in cooking, laundry, shopping, independent travel and road safety. Money management enables them to lead more enriched lives and become more independent. Students develop communication skills, maths and English, interpersonal skills, decision-making and problem solving abilities.

Students have the opportunity to study a vocational subject of their choice including the following:


Students run a “Lunch club”, organising various foods to sell to customers who come in to a café type scene where tables are set and the students perform different tasks to serve them there food and drinks.

Catering develops skills and knowledge in preparing meals such as; soups and breads, casseroles and stews, Christmas all the trimmings Turkey barm, salads, stir fry, homemade burgers and foods from around the world, Italian, Chinese, Ireland, Spain, France, American and British.

This all helps students with building up there confidence and self-esteem. They all work as part of a team, follow all instructions given to them and follow Health and Safety within a food Industry.

Catering is run like a business Enterprise, where students take part in marketing, banking, budgeting, and using an Internal ordering system for all produce.

Following making and cooking foods for lunch club, students also have to keep up with the clearing and washing of all pots and equipment and also load all aprons and cloths in to the washing machine and switch on. This all helps teach those Independent Living Skills. 


Horticulture is a very rewarding experience for the students.  It opportunity  of growing, creating, maintaining flowers and vegetables.  Benefiting and improving fine motor skills, enhancing creativity, increasing social skills and improves self-confidence.

The course has a busy schedule with various seasonal enterprise projects such as winter hanging baskets, bulbs and wreaths, spring bulbs, setting vegetables and seeds for the great summer plant sale and summer hanging baskets.

The students have real life experience of visiting the wholesalers to buy goods at cost and to work alongside the community using their facilities.

There is also something to do indoors or outdoors if you choose this vocational pathway. 

Woodwork Pathway

The enterprise is located off the college site in a small industrial estate in Leek and this helps to give the student a “feel” of going to work.  Experienced tutor in woodwork supervises students making garden furniture and bird products, which sell at the college shop “Crafty Corner”.

The goods range from Bug Houses at £2, Bird nesting boxes at £5, Twin seats at £100 and picnic tables at £180. We supply local pubs and schools with outdoor furniture and bird products for wild gardens, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust with bird box kits for school education projects, local communities with furniture and planters and even Leek and Buxton Colleges with outdoor seating.

The unit has a well-equipped woodwork shop with tools that are adaptable to meet student’s needs, a teaching area with computers for student course work and a small kitchen area to help teach life skills like basic meal and drinks preparation, a washing machine to wash aprons and clothes.

The students take pride in the products that they help to make and this helps to build self-esteem, working as part of a team, following instructions and Health and Safety in the workplace.

We cater for the colleges 16-25 yr old students and run a school’s link programme with local schools to help introduce potential students to college life to support the transition from school to college.

Creative Craft

Students make a range of handmade pottery items that are produced both at Leek and Buxton campuses. All of the work is available for sale and is sold through the Crafty corner shop throughout the year at Leek. At Buxton the students make work on a seasonal theme that is sold through craft sales on the spark kart in the college at Christmas, Easter and summer.

A range of handmade items are produced using traditional techniques including slip casting, press moulding and clay modelling. All of the work produced is hand crafted, decorated and glazed ready for sale by the students. Students undertake a range of projects throughout the year using a wide range of techniques and materials. Students are encouraged to make personal choices with their work and to develop their own creativity, within the brief for the sale.

As part of the enterprise element, students weigh the work they have produced and calculate cost prices for each product. The students then go on to create a retail price list for each sale. As part of the sale for the products learners are encouraged to take part in preparing their work for sale – organising wrapping, transporting the work, displaying the work for sale. On sale day learners run the sale conversing with the buying public, getting to handle money and giving change in return.

As part of the programme learners complete an enterprise workbook, where they learn about marketing, costing products and developing working processes. Learners keep a weekly log where they record their activities each week and are able to give personal feedback on the work they are producing.


All students have the opportunity to participate in work experience, whether that be in house or with a local business, a variety of placements are used i.e. coffee shops, libraries, Art Galleries and supermarkets which support the student to gain employability skills, independence and confidence.  Tutors and students work together to establish the most appropriate work place to help meet the students’ aspiration through meeting their work place choice

The work experience area of the programme aims to introduce and build on skills to enable students to progress into employment, training or volunteering following their course.

Students take part in group work activities and 1-1 meetings to increase their awareness of opportunities and career choices before selecting their placement. Each student has a skills audit to understand which employment skills require the most concentration; these undertake review following placement to measure the impact of the experience on student learning.

Students gain invaluable experience of work place environment and understanding attitudes and behaviours expected at work.  Students’ feedback shows that they gain increased skills such as communicating with colleagues and customers, using their own initiative, organisation and planning, and travel.

We work with many local employers including Morrison’s, Foxlowe Arts Centre, Whaley Bridge Memorial, Buxton Museum, WH Smith’s, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Co-op, The Source, Mind, Buxton Riding School, and Peak Wildlife Park.

Many of our students progress onto further courses and curriculum areas within the college. Those that leave college move into other FE courses, supported internships, paid employment, voluntary work and independent living.


Students participate in a one-hour session on a weekly basis with their progress coach. This is an opportunity for students to use their voice and have their say on experiences in College. Topics covered include British Values, Prevent, Online safety, Resilience and Employability. Students develop essential communication and social skills through active discussions, debates and activities. Students are encouraged to develop and build on employability skills by completing self-assessments and personal statements and are supported with work experience placements.


The aims of EEP are to:

Improve and enhance the learner’s experience of College life.

Develop new skills, preparing themselves better for the workplace.

Work collaboratively with others and undertake new challenges and experiences.

Increase awareness of their own strengths and areas for development.

This enables students to display a greater ability in resilience, determination, problem solving, communication, independence and applying knowledge in new contexts.

The range of activities include:

  • Ready for Work Club – introducing CV writing, application completion, job search, covering letter writing.
  • Volunteering/Work Experience Club – research and applying for placements and participation.
  • Health and Wellbeing – including, attending sessions at the local gym.
  •  Ready Steady Cook Club – healthy eating and lifestyles.
  • Road Safety Awareness – covering both theory and practical including travel training.
  •  Reading ahead challenge
  • CEOP internet safety.

During EEP sessions, we offer activities and experiences that develop new skills, increase knowledge and confidence and introduce new interests. Our aim is to provide the learners skills, knowledge and the confidence to move on to the next stages of their lives.This year we are offering:

  • Life Skills sessions led by the Union of Students to prepare learners for further college courses, work or independent living. Sessions include Basi
  • Money Management, Team Work Skills, Basic First Aid, giving and taking instructions, washing and ironing and basic food preparation and food storage. Held over six weeks.
  • RAG Club led by the Union of Students where learners can work on their personal development by researching, planning and hosting a fundraising event for a Charity of their choice. Held over six weeks.
  • Ready to Work Club aimed at learners that are going out on work placement or looking for employment. They will gain experience doing job searches/applications and the work place environment. Held over six weeks.
  • An introduction to zumba and yoga-designed for beginners who want to try out a different form of exercise and improve their fitness and wellbeing whilst having fun.

These will be followed by a selection of one-hour sessions every week to promote British Values through the Chaplaincy and gain an understanding of how to keep themselves safe by attending sessions on road safety, alcohol and drugs awareness, cyber-crime, CSE and Healthy body Healthy mind.


Tutors provide all students with an opportunity to take part in a residential holiday at Calvert Trust in Keswick. The centre is exclusive to people with physical, learning, and sensory disabilities, including those with the most complex needs.  Calvert Trust works with all students to encourage them to reach their full potential no matter what their level of ability in a fun and safe environment.

The residential provides students with the chance to develop their independent living skills as it may be their first time away from home.  The students have to the opportunity to participate in all the fun with their peers and support from the college staff who they have already built up a trusting relationship.


“College has made me such a confident person. Buxton & Leek College has given us all a second chance to improve our future and reach our goals.” Paige

“I think college has made me more independent and made me a more confident person. The course has made such a difference for me to get my English and maths.” Leah


To apply for this course, please complete our online application form here and select Independence & Living Skills.