Life isn’t always easy growing up and for some of Cardiff’s young people, the traditional school environment just doesn’t work – but motorbikes, engines, and the vocational education and training on offer at Foreshore MXC, a motocross facility on Rover Way can be life-changing.
“It’s definitely kept me out of trouble,” Jae said. “I’ve been mixed up in all sorts of things growing up in the area I live in, so where I am today, I’m proud of myself really.”
Jae (24), who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), was referred to the track’s vocational education programme by his school in 2013. “Written work in school wasn’t really my thing,” he explained on a sunny winter’s day at the Cardiff Council facility on Rover Way, “and the teachers knew that.”
“You could see straight away that he enjoyed being at the track,” said Mark Thomas, who leads Cardiff Council’s Vocational Education team, “so we worked with his school to develop a programme that balanced his academic responsibilities with time at the track riding and learning practical mechanic skills, and just tried to give him a support system, boost his confidence, and it all paid off.”
Jae’s attendance and participation at school improved and as his confidence grew, the Vocational Education Team gave him practical work experience servicing motorbikes as well as opportunities to develop his leadership skills. Those skills eventually lead to him supporting and mentoring his peers and now, just over ten years later he is employed at the track, helping the next generation.
“There’s a lot I was shown here,” said Jae, “wheel-building, how to fit a chain, change sprockets, fit air filters and now I’m working here, everything I learned as a kid is all coming into play and I’m using it every day and trying to teach these kids what I was taught, so I get them on the right path and give them opportunities in life.”
Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Parks, Cllr Jennifer Burke, said: “Jae’s story is really inspiring and he’s just one of the many young people who have benefited from the unique, hands-on educational programme at the Motocross facility, with many gaining valuable qualifications and employment as a result.
“Now, with an expanded range of programmes for teenagers and younger children, covering animal care, music and video technology, outdoor adventure activities and play work to name a few, the team are able to help unlock the potential of even more young people from Cardiff and beyond.”
The Vocational Education Cardiff team runs a range of different programmes at facilities including, Cardiff International White Water, Cardiff Riding School and Splott Play, as well as the Foreshore MXC track.
- Junior Steps Programme – aims to encourage, engage, and support primary age children. Courses are flexible and pupils learn and develop new skills and experiences in subjects including land and water-based adventure activities, play work, animal care, music and movement. Sessions are held at a range of venues across the city, one day a week for the duration of the school year.
- Stepping Stones Programme –offers young people aged 11-13 an insight into vocational training and on completion, can lead on to a more in-depth vocational course from age 14.Sessions are held at a range of venues across the city, one day a week for the duration of the school year. The programme also covers literacy and numeracy, life skills, PSE workshops as well as a vocational subject of the student’s choice.
- Vocational Education – the Vocational Education Cardiff BTEC (Sport, Leisure and Development) accredited courses are open to young people aged 14 – 16. This structured programme offers accredited BTEC courses in: Music and Video Technology, Mechanics and Engineering, Animal Care, Land Based Studies, Entry into Public Services as well as Health, Fitness and Nutrition (BTEC).