Updates 2015/16


First academic year: done.

We did it! RISE has successfully completed it’s first academic year. A full report on the year will be produced during the summer, describing the extraordinary journey we have been on, the accomplishments during the year and the lessons learned – we are a learning community, after all. The staff team will take a short and well-earned break before checking back in during August for the start of our Reaching Potential summer school, the first instalment of our Awards For All-funded project.

It’s hard to describe what kind of year it has been – nothing really does it justice; we can’t be sentimental because it wasn’t exactly a soft-focus kind of year, it was tough and scary. But we made it, and both staff and learners were inspirational, taking on every new challenge, not hesitating, building a provision out of nothing. It was remarkable, for the effort, the team ethic, the quality of the work. 

Some of the highlights for the year:

  • We had two lovely staff members move on, and welcomed two lovely new ones during the year
  • We had a baby
  • Everyone survived, as far as we know
  • We broke even, and paid everyone on time
  • We probably didn’t create any philosophers, but we may have a cook or two
  • We got NCFE Approved Centre status
  • Ofsted popped in and were really impressed, which is good because…
  • …we’ve applied to be a registered Independent School, and they’ll be out again
  • We had floods
  • We’ve had such wonderful volunteers
  • There have been biscuits, and cake, and paracetamol, and pavlova. Oh my. The pavlova!

Next year we have to take on more challenges, and step up another level again. It would have been nice to build more slowly but the economic and educational environment won’t allow for treading water, and we’re going to have another year of problem-solving, jumping through hoops and being wonderful whatever the weather. We have the team to do that. We can be ambitious because we bring the quality.

Awards For All Funding

RISE Learning Zone has been awarded almost £10,000 from the Big Lottery for our Reaching Potential learning project, which will begin during the Summer holidays. RISE will deliver a programme to engage & support disadvantaged service users into activity based learning sessions. The aim is to help service users to explore and expand their skills, attitudes and behaviours needed to fulfill their potential. This includes informal activities and accredited learning focusing on building self confidence, self esteem and being able to make informed choices.

The programme will be available to Nottingham City residents aged 16+ We aim to engage 50 service users throughout the programme, with a particular focus upon those disengaged with learning and training. The programme will include practical life-skills sessions addressing issues facing our service users today, such as cooking skills and healthier living; art and creative activities, such as creative writing to broaden horizons, improve literacy skills and to encourage an outlet for expression; a bicycle maintenance project; an environmental education project; a trip or activity to challenge themselves or to build upon a new skill; and a participant-led community activity to celebrate their achievements.

Independent School Application

We continue our early developmental process today by submitting our application for Independent School Status with the Department for Education, completing another large body of work as part of the application and ticking off another job on the ‘to do’ list – which does seem to get longer rather than shorter with each passing week. We have been advised by the DfE that we will have the outcome of the application around the beginning of January, with an interim Ofsted visit due in the meantime.

First term report

RISE has completed our first term as a new organisation, largely unscathed, and we feel we are building now for the future. To this end we have added new subjects and activities. Crucially we have seen our cooking course take off, and the learners are loving this new subject, quickly adapting to the demands and discipline of working in the kitchen, which is shaping our thinking about how to build on such positive contributions from students and expand our practice in this direction.

During the first term we welcomed back two members of the old Zone team in Michael and Holly, as the provision grows into it’s new independent status, and we are preparing to say a temporary ‘cheerio’ to our Nutrition & Health tutor Kim who goes off soon on maternity leave. Meanwhile we have pushed toward our goal of being an all-round learning community with five of our team taking on correspondence courses with Leicester College in a range of CPD-related areas from working with young people with ASD to business administration.

Community Interest

Today we have been approved by Companies House as a Community Interest Company, an important step on the way to our employee-owned co-operative status. Our community interest statement – the objects that define our purpose as a CIC – can be found here.

This is another small landmark for the organisation and we are pleased with the progress we are making. From an organisational perspective, there are bigger and more ambitious steps ahead, including the co-operative and application for independent school status which must be achieved in this academic year 2015-16. We have also had a round of meetings with some really exceptional grassroots organisations to explore partnerships and associations that will enrich our learning environment, and we expect to make some exciting announcements soon.

First half term: done.

After a summer of uncertainty, RISE Learning Zone – renewed, re-envisioned, and independent – opened it’s doors on 2 September to a new cohort of learners and some returning friends. We are proud to have saved every job and every learner place following the closure of the alternative programme by the charity that runs The Zone Youth Project. RISE is so appropriate: for us, it is onward and upwards to greater things. We are grateful to our many friends and supporters – and families for that matter – who encouraged us not to give up but to keep on. Not least to Base 51 and NGY MyPlace, our home, without whom this would not have been possible.

Six weeks later, we are still here! The first half term is complete, and while it has been an immense challenge behind the scenes, we like to think we have presented a seamless transition into RISE for our learners and referrers. There is a long way to go, but we have the passion, the skills, and most importantly the commitment, to see this project through to success. Our plan is unique, our ambitions bold. Over the coming academic year we will be updating here with each step we take. And we’ll welcome all the support, good ideas and good will we can get along the way: why not join us on the journey?