Rachele Leadbeater, 23 from Drybook, is an Assistant Nursery Practitioner at The Secret Garden, Children’s Day Nursery in Gloucester.
Rachele has dyspraxia which affects her memory, balance, co-ordination, maths and English skills.
She has a real natural ability with children and had always wanted a career in childcare. However this was proving very challenging because of the mandatory academic requirements to become an apprentice in the industry.
Pluss approached The Secret Garden to negotiate a six month Pluss Traineeship® position. This is where Pluss pays the employees wages for the first six months thus giving the individual time to learn, develop and flourish in the role.
Rachele has been so successful that she has just been offered a permanent job.
Pluss delivers Work Choice, the Department for Work and Pensions specialist disability employment programme. Work Choice receives funding from the European Social Fund for customers referred to the programme prior to 25th April 2017.
"In the morning I ask Amy where I am needed. I cover lunch which means that I am in all different rooms. I play with the children, make sure they have aprons on and are sat at the tables, and I get them ready for sleep.
"I have always wanted to work with children. I most enjoy seeing their development; watching them grow and build.
"I would say my skills are that I am flexible and I think I am good at getting the children to join in play, talk and interact. I am also good with time-keeping.
"The people that work here are very lovely; really nice. If I struggle they say ‘I’m here to help’. They are very approachable and happy to answer my questions.
"I have dyspraxia. I was diagnosed when I was a child. It caused problems when I was little and I got picked on but I got help from school. Now it’s more to do with my memory. I have to do things straight away or I will forget. I have to make sure I am very organised too. I always check the night before what time I have to be somewhere and get my uniform, money and everything ready to go. It also affects my balance, co-ordination, reading and maths. I struggle with catching a ball or walking in a straight line.
"For two years I was continuously looking for work. I was organised but I struggled to get a job. I went for interviews and thought I did well but then I got a feeling I didn’t do well enough. Sometimes I wouldn’t even get feedback. It was hard, it really got me down. Some days I wanted to give up as I thought ‘I won’t find anything’ but then I thought ‘no, I will find something’.
"I then started looking for apprenticeships but I was told I had to do English and maths at college. These are part of the mandatory requirement for Level 3 apprenticeships.
"When I first came to Pluss I did workshops in childcare, health and social care. They also supported me with filling in applications as I struggled to do this myself. They also helped me prepare for interviews and gave me practice through mock interviews. This was really helpful. They came to the interview for this job and it was very good to have their support and for them to chip in.
"Now it feels brilliant to be in work. My confidence is building and I am more independent so I can do things. Just having a job; knowing I have something to look forward to and get up for in the morning.
"I have completed courses, got a job, I meet new people and talk to them. It all feels so right. I feel good about myself, yes, happy!"
Amy Stephens, Manager, Secret Garden Nursery
"For me as a manager, I look for many things in my staff. Rachel is not only committed and is here all the time but she loves to be here. She has got a brilliant work ethic and she wants to learn. She gets on with the girls really, really well. Overall, she is pretty perfect for us.
"Karen from Pluss has been amazing too. It went really well with Rachele. They were always here to do meetings on time with her and are there on the other end of the phone if there is ever a problem."