A Pioneering scheme which provides education and training to Pendle youngsters who are not in school looks set to expand. Since The Alternative School (TAS) was set up in Brierfield in 2007, it has provided hundreds of youngsters with access to learning. Now plans for a second base in the old Barnoldswick Town Council premises in Fernlea Avenue have been submitted to Pendle Council. Town hall chiefs are expected to make a decision on the blueprints to transform the office space to an education facility very soon. The new centre at The Old Library will offer an alternative Key Stage Four curriculum for children aged 14 to 16, who are not in mainstream education. Group manager Kirsty-Anne Pugh is anticipating that it will have 20 full-time places for local youngsters who fall into this category. She said that the young people who benefit from TAS have had low attendance at school for a number of different reasons. Pupils from years 10 and 11 often attend TAS to continue studying for GCSEs in literacy, numeracy and ICT.
Pugh said the aim was not only to help children with reading, writing, numeracy and ICT skills, but also to build self-esteem and confidence. She added, 'The whole idea behind setting up TAS was to avoid young people being out of work and out of education between 16 and 18. A lot of these kids have had a real negative experience at school. We don't want to put pressure on them, so we let them write their own timetables. By setting their own attendance times, we've had an average turnout of 90 to 100 %. Our aim is to mainly work on personal development and to let them take ownership and control of their own learning, therefore making their own choices about their future lives.' TAS is also involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards programme, which gets young people to develop practical and social skills, improve themselves through physical activity, volunteer their services to the community and undertake an expedition.