A group of students from Folkestone, who have successfully achieved a Kent Fire and Rescue Service BTEC qualification, have been presented with their certificates at a special ceremony. Nine students from the Pent Valley Technology College in Folkestone will be awarded their qualification at Shepway Council's Chambers.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is the only fire service in the region offering the BTEC Level 2 Fire and Rescue Service in the Community award. Equivalent to a GSCE at grade A-C level, it has been delivered by KFRS's Youth Engagement Team (YET) - in partnership with the Shepway Community Safety Partnership (CSP) - as an extension of its on-going work with young people.
Funded by KFRS and Shepway CSP, the course is targeted towards vulnerable 14-16 year-olds and is offered as an alternative curriculum option to those who may be struggling to achieve in a conventional school environment. Candidates may include those suffering from low self-esteem or with learning or behavioural difficulties, as well as students who have experienced problems with anti-social behaviour and may be at risk of exclusion.

Kent told FIRE that it is a very practical course and aims to provide learners with an opportunity to develop a range of skills and knowledge including working with a range of fire service equipment, as well as learning about the fire service as a whole and the benefits to the broader community.
Held over six weeks, and based entirely at Folkestone fire station, students learn through a 'hands-on' approach, using and developing their skills by problem solving in practical situations and scenarios, such as operational drills. Other areas of study include road traffic collisions, home fire safety and deliberate fire setting.
As well as academic achievement, personal skills are developed such as confidence, communication and teamwork and the course aims to help students gain valuable transferable skills that will help them on the path to employment and further education, as well as providing an access route into public services.
KFRS Community Safety Manager Charlie Smith, told FIRE: "The course provides a vocational learning opportunity to a diverse range of young people who may struggle to achieve academic success within traditional styles of learning.
"By working away from the classroom environment and interacting with professional firefighters and instructors, students engage and develop a positive approach to learning, building their self-esteem and self-confidence. The course also helps to raise their sense of personal responsibility and improve social awareness of community issues such the consequences of arson and fire prevention.
"This is a significant achievement for this group of young people and it has been rewarding to see each individual complete the course. Their success is something they should be extremely proud of."
Jane Allcock, Assistant Head Teacher, Every Child Matters, at Pent Valley School, said: "The students were unsure what to expect, but they really enjoyed the course and felt that they had learned a lot. Achieving the BTEC level 2 in Fire and Rescue Service in the Community diploma gave them a big boost in their exam year."
Shepway CSP Anti-Social Behaviour Manager Shaun Taylor, said: "The positive change in behaviour and impact on the young people has been evident throughout the course. The most pleasing moment for me, was when one of the boy's grandmothers saw the final exercise and was overwhelmed by how her grandson's attitude had changed for the better towards both the family and the local community since being on the course."
Thanks to the success of this course, a second programme is being run at the school.


Posted: 12.25am, 25.03.11