Helping students go back to school - centre’s courses building self-esteem

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CHILDREN struggling in school are having their confidence restored through “education by stealth” at an Elland centre.

Compass Bridge, based at Bridgefield Mill, Elland Bridge, is working with up to 35 youngsters daily.

The not-for-profit organisation grew out of the former Pit Stop project, which folded late last year after 20 years in Calderdale helping students who struggled in school.

Compass operations manager Peter Irving said his team were working on a change of emphasis and offering mainly outdoor activities to build self-esteem.

“We tend to deal with students who do not fit into the school ethos,” he said.

Work done with students leads to qualifications which they wouldn’t obtain at school and the work is more practical based, using subjects such as maths and science.

“It’s education by stealth and we try to keep them away from the classroom as much as we can,” said Mr Irving, a former teacher.

“A lot of our students struggle with basic reading and writing and if we can build up their self-esteem so they are confident to go back into the school system it’s a result for us and the school.”

Compass is funded direct by people who use the facilities which include practical and recreational indoor facilities and outdoor pursuits such as canoeing.

Woodwork, cooking, mechanics and painting are among the practical skills taught.

Individuals are referred and also groups of students – both boys and girls – aged mainly between 14 and 16.

Work is also done with local youth groups and charities.

Students have designed and made raised planting beds and outdoor tables for use by wheelchair users at Willow Court, Elland.

The centre employs seven staff who are backed by volunteers and they also organise corporate events for team-building.

Repair work is still ongoing in the mill following severe floods earlier last year and Mr Irving is confident problems are in the past and Compass has a promising future.

“It works and that is why we are here,” he said.