Colleges open new shops run by students with SEN

Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are running new on-campus shops at Activate Learning’s City of Oxford College and Banbury and Bicester College.

The shops, which stock a range of stationery, art equipment, snacks and soft drinks, were set up to provide students with the chance to learn valuable employment skills while gaining an academic qualification.

Students complete daily retail tasks alongside more specialist jobs such as cashing up, banking and ordering stock. This is complemented by English and maths lessons. The profits from the shops will help fund supported employment support for the learners when they leave Activate Learning.

The City of Oxford College shop was opened by Janet Johnson, Oxfordshire County Council's strategic lead for vulnerable learners (below).











Engaging with employers

Lifeskills faculty director, Michelle Parks said: “We have now redeveloped both our learning companies in Oxford and Banbury. This will enable us to grow and engage further with local and national employers to collaborate on designing new programmes. Our learning companies provide all of the necessary training to enable SEN learners to progress into supported internships and paid work.” 

Hannah Thomas, Lifeskills faculty manager for Banbury and Bicester College added: “One of the things we would like to look into is if local businesses would like to rent a space from us so we can start selling their products for them.”


The council provides support for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, working with families, learning providers and other partners to help them get the best possible start in life.

The council’s Cabinet Member for Education Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “This is a great initiative which is providing young people valuable employment experience, while developing confidence, social skills and teamwork in a supportive and busy working environment.

“Achievement rates of students with SEND who attend Oxfordshire FE colleges is above the national average, and supported internships within the county have proved to be very successful with many positive employment outcomes.”