Jess celebrates NHS internship

Excelsior College student Jess Edgar preparing for an NHS internship

Caring Excelsior College student Jess Edgar is celebrating securing a place on the sought after NHS Project Choice programme, opening the door to a future career helping others.

Jess impressed an interview panel and completed a series of tasks during a competitive recruitment process as one of 12 candidates from across Newcastle to secure a year-long internship with the programme from September.

‘Project Choice’ is a supported internship programme for people with learning difficulties.

NHS Health Education England supports NHS Trusts to deliver the programme nationally with a focus on ensuring interns are work ready, matching their skills to employment needs within the NHS.

It’s a dream opportunity for Jess who is keen to pursue a career as a carer or working with nursery-aged children.

“The programme is work experience to help me train for a future job,” said Jess, 17, who was supported to apply for Project Choice by Excelsior College staff.

“It felt great to get the placement. I like caring for people and want to try and get into that line of work.”

The young learners spend a year in their internships, consisting of three placements which each span ten to 12 weeks.

In their placement they are embedded in a team. The Project Choice programme uses this time to look at any barriers and potential areas of development. Throughout their time on each placement, learners are gradually assessed on how ready they are for employment.

The scheme also incorporates a work experience element supported by the Trusts. This gives students an opportunity to develop skills for the workplace and ensures young people with learning difficulties understand the importance of matching their skill sets to work while still in education.

A minimum of 12 internships are supported annually, ensuring learners are ready for entry level roles or above. In Newcastle, 52 interns have been supported through the project, the employment transition rate currently standing at 77%.

National spotlight for inspirational Ally

Ally Ali with his Newcastle United Foundation award

Ally Ali with his Newcastle United Foundation Young Leaders Award

Inspirational Ally Ali’s life story of triumph overcoming adversity will headline a top national football conference.

The 19-year-old Excelsior College student will tell the Premier League Kicks Co-ordinators Conference this week how working with the Newcastle United Foundation and his passion for football have given focus to his life.

Ally landed the foundation’s Young Leader Award at a glittering ceremony late last year and will this week find himself in the spotlight again at the Kicks conference at Wyboston Lakes Resort in Bedfordshire.

Kicks representatives from Premier League clubs will gather to learn more about the impact of the programme at clubs and share best practice.

Ally, who leads Newcastle United Foundation football coaching sessions with youngsters and is a flag bearer on the St James’ Park pitch before Premier League matches, arrived in Newcastle from Somalia just five years ago, speaking little English.

His determination has secured him a place in Excelsior College studying BTEC Travel and Tourism and gained him a Level One Coaching qualification with the Newcastle United Foundation, the registered charity supported by Newcastle United Football Club.

He is a talented player, bagging goals as a striker for North East side Benfield as well as Excelsior College, with hopes of making it as a professional player.

Newcastle United Foundation’s Kicks programme provides free football for young people aged eight to 19 across the North East.

More than 2,000 young people take part in the weekly sessions every year, helping them achieve their goals through football. Ally helps run sessions in Newcastle’s West End.

It gives youngsters constructive activities, increasing coaching and playing opportunities, breaking down barriers between police and young people and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Ally is a good news story – the conference will learn how the Kicks campaign has helped integrate him into the community and how football has increased his self confidence since moving from Somalia,” said Laura Wilson, Newcastle United Foundation Community Projects Co-ordinator.

“He’s fantastic, he comes across very well and is a real role model for people coming to this country.

“Ally has a bright future ahead of him with hopes to go to university to study electrical engineering which shows that he’s broadened his horizons to look beyond sport and give himself as many career options as possible.”

Ally said: “Working with the Newcastle United Foundation has helped me a lot.

“My speech will explain how it all started, when I came here, making friends and playing football.

“I feel privileged to be speaking to these people. When I first came to Newcastle, I was shy and would never have done this. The Newcastle United Foundation has made me more confident and given me the chance to travel and go to different cities through football.”

Inspiration tops the bill at CEIAG careers event

Rainbird Academy pupils gain inspiration from Northumbria University staff

Rainbird Primary Academy pupils with Northumbria University staff at inspirational Excelsior CEIAG event 

Speed dating, practice interviews, a careers fair, Higher Education opportunities and life skills advice.

A wealth of guidance distilled down into a packed CEIAG event at Excelsior Academy underpinned by the expertise of some of Britain’s finest companies and organisations.

Hundreds of pupils from Rainbird Primary Academy through to Excelsior’s Sixth Form College seized the opportunity to quiz and learn from those who have hit the heights in their respective organisations.

The careers education, information, advice and guidance event is the showcase for Excelsior Academy’s comprehensive programme of support to help its students achieve their career of choice.

Whether it’s going to university or securing an apprenticeship, the academy aims to make sure every student is given the best possible chance to pursue their dream.

Representatives from organisations such as Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities, the NHS, Barclays Life Skills, the Army, RAF, Eversheds Sutherland, Northumbrian Water and MediaWorks, to name but a few, told pupils of their career paths and the opportunities to follow in their footsteps.

Excelsior College Assistant Principal Deon Krishnan and Andrea Naylor, Excelsior CEIAG and Work Experience Co-ordinator, led the event for the academy, staged with the support of Virgin Trains and the Prince of Wales’ Business in the Community (BITC) charity.

John Riddell, Education Manager for BITC, led the business speed dating sessions for pupils – who spent five minutes learning with an organisation, before making their way onto the next company for more information.

“We have lots of different organisations who have come along to kindly give their time to talk with the young people about their jobs journey, their career path and what matters to them.

“The pupils will get messages which reinforce what they hear in school, about attendance, behaviour and aspiration and also hear one or two inspiring things that will really stick in their minds and help them to do their best.”

Entrepreneur Onyi Anyado travelled from London to represent the Transformation Trust education charity with a powerful message of how financial knowledge can help young people making their way into the world of work.

“I’ll be teaching students about money management and money skills, really challenging the students about bank accounts, saving, about the essence of all things money skills, because once they have left school, it is a big wide world out there,” said Onyi.

“I’m very excited, they are very eager and I know it’s going to be a day of excellent feedback.”

For more information on Excelsior’s careers education, information, advice and guidance strategy, please go to

Hot shot Jamie chasing professional football dream

Jamie Talbot Academy 360 striker chasing professional contract

Goal machine Jamie Talbot is a striker in demand with professional clubs keeping a close eye on his rapid progress.

The 15-year-old Academy 360 student spent six months at Sunderland Football Club’s Academy of Light playing against some of the most talented teenagers in the country from clubs such as Liverpool, Newcastle United and Hull City.

He lined up for the Under 15s and 16s before being released by the Black Cats, where upon National League Hartlepool United offered him a contract.

After careful thought, Jamie has decided to aim higher and focus his efforts on being signed by a top club.

Both Newcastle United and Middlesbrough are keeping him under close scrutiny. The pacey centre-forward has a prodigious scoring record at all levels of football – bagging 56 goals in just 17 games for Silksworth in the Russell Foster Premier League last season.

Jamie regularly found the net spearheading attack for Academy 360s Year 9, 10 and 11 teams.

“I want to turn professional and play in the Premier League if I can,” said Jamie.

“When I got picked up at Sunderland the coach said I was the best kid he’d seen in his time of scouting; he said I needed to carry on doing what I’m doing and I’ll get somewhere.”

We’ll keep you informed of Jamie’s progress…

Inspiring career opportunities for Excelsior pupils

Abbie Wright of Laidlaw Schools Trust seizing employment opportunities

Former Excelsior Academy student and apprentice Abbie Wright, now part of the Laidlaw Schools Trust HR team

Some of Britain’s leading employers will unveil a wealth of career opportunities to more than 1,200 Excelsior pupils at a careers fair this week.

Virgin Trains, NHS, Barclays, Accenture and Nestle are just some of the household names who will be speaking with pupils at the academy’s CEIAG Inspiration Day on Friday January 12th.

There’ll be a buzz of excitement throughout the academy as speed dating sessions take place with employers, as well as a careers fair with companies and organisations exhibiting their opportunities, practice interview sessions and Higher Education talks in a packed itinerary.

Excelsior Academy strives to give all its pupils the best possible opportunity to access their career of choice – with its own successful apprenticeships programme just one proven avenue taken by students to enter the world of work.

The CEIAG Inspiration Day embeds careers into the school curriculum for pupils across Excelsior Academy, from Rainbird Primary through to the Sixth Form College.

Assistant Principal Deon Krishnan and his team have led development of the programme which will host dozens of organisations and providers who will set up stalls in the main hall, talking with pupils interested in learning more about the career options open to them.

The Army, CAPITA, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities together with Northumbria Police are just some of the big name organisations who will give their time and expertise to shed light on fantastic career opportunities.

Pupils will also take part in an innovative careers speed dating session led by John Riddell from Business in the Community.

For more information on Excelsior’s careers education, information, advice and guidance strategy, please go to