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Seven new Cheltenham apprentices go back to school

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT: Laura Stagg and Dan Boardman, front, with, back, Kacey Semmens, Luke Drinkwater and Zoe Eastwood

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GOING back to school has proved a life-changing experience for seven youngsters working as apprentices.

Balcarras took on seven new members of staff after setting up an apprenticeship scheme to help tackle youth unemployment.

The young people, aged from 16 to 24, have been given the opportunity by the Charlton Kings academy to stay in education while earning funds.

More than 100 people applied for the seven jobs, which include apprenticeships in site maintenance, catering, and as teaching assistants and a performance arts technician.

The full-time apprenticeships last for a year, although there could be an opportunity of moving to a permanent role if a vacancy becomes available.

Careers adviser at the school, Catriona Dry, said: "It is amazing how much they are learning and we are very happy with how well they are all getting along.

"It is early days but we think we have the right people for the job – they are a great bunch of young people and quite a variety of personalties."

All the apprentices, three of which are former Balcarras students, spend one day a week at Gloucestershire College, Cirencester College or Cheltenham's Pearson in Practice.

The apprentices are teaching assistant, Zoe Eastwood, 18; catering assistant Tim Townsend, 23; Dan Boardman, 22, in IT support; Richard Newman, 17, in site maintenance; Kacey Semmens, 17, as a business administrator; Luke Drinkwater, 18, the performance arts technician and teaching assistant Laura Stagg, 20.

ICT classroom support apprentice Zoe Eastwood had the grades to go to university when she left Balcarras.

However, Zoe from St Mark's, who wants to become a teacher, was put off by the tuition fees.

She had been a pupil at the school for seven years, before taking the position.

The 18-year-old said: "Getting practical experience at the job was important to me, but I also wanted to carry on in education, so the apprenticeship combination works really well for me."

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