‘’They just get kids like us – we have people here I can relate to. I finally feel like I actually belong here and that I am not a problem.”
Harris Professional Skills offers opportunities to young people from 16-19 who have struggled in secondary school and who do not have the GCSE grades to access meaningful further education.
Often, these are vulnerable young people who have gone ‘off track’ because they need more support than the state is able to provide – smaller classes; behavioural support; mentors; coaches; attendance officers; sometimes housing support or for the school to fill the familial role.
Harris Professional Skills offers young people a genuine second chance and support to build a bright future.
‘‘I became a different person at HPS6F. I didn’t fit in my previous schools and had a few bumpy rides. I saw the light and was motivated to do as well for myself because the teachers believed in me. I researched into my future career and found out what grades I needed into further education.’
Our Sixth Form is growing: we have 250 students in this academic year and in 2023/4, we will have 315 students on roll.
Harris Professional Skills supports students to succeed. 75% of the students on level 3 courses were successful in attending a university course at the end of their time at HPS6F: these students would have been denied this opportunity in other settings.
About Us - Video Links
Harris Professional Skills Sixth Form opened in September 2018 under the free school’s programme, established to provide an outstanding vocational education and preparation for skills-based work or transition to university for students in Croydon and the surrounding boroughs.
- The academy is located in South Norwood, which is in the 12% most deprived areas in the country and the top 3% of the country with the worst crime rates.
- The academy on average caters for 91% BAME students many of whom are classified as vulnerable.
With a focus on employability, the Harris Professional Skills Sixth Form curriculum has been designed to help students develop the skills they need to be who they want to be and to enable them to have the choice of a successful career.
Part of the Harris Federation, which operates 52 highly successful primary and secondary Academies across London and Essex, Harris Professional Skills Sixth Form caters for students who may not suit the traditional pathways offered at a sixth form.
- Across the country, 1 in 3 students find themselves in a position where they cannot access level 3 courses due to poor performance at GCSE.
- Many of the reasons can be attributed to neglect, high levels of vulnerability and low Cultural Capital.
- BAME students are disproportionately affected.
We are disrupting this pattern.
Harris Professional Skills operates with small class sizes and strong pastoral support offering focused vocational options as well as the opportunity to take or GCSEs that students need to progress further into a career or higher education. HPS6F enables learners to still realise their ambitions.
The academy offers a choice of Construction, Business Media, Health and Social Care, Art and Science for students; a pathway is also available for students who wish to improve on the grades achieved in Year 11 enabling them to realise ambitions to complete A levels or equivalents at a sixth form or college.
We know that the traditional college system is not supporting all children to succeed. Children who have struggled academically are more likely to become teenagers who fail to engage with education and who fail to secure employment.
Not at Harris Professional Skills.
“In my two years at Harris Professional Skills, I’ve learned how important it is to prioritise my education because everything I've learnt will be valuable in my life”.
We believe that children deserve a second chance – we provide them with the support, above and beyond what is funded by the state, to allow them to believe they can succeed. And they grow into this belief – often defying their own expectations of what they can do.
Many of these young people have not had a good school experience so far. Harris Professional Skills helps them change this: they become part of a community, for three years; those who need to resit their GCSEs do so alongside starting their vocational pathways, which helps motivate them and encourage them to see what their future could be. Being in one organisation for three years allows students to build relationships with staff – and that trusts allows them to share the things that might be impacting their ability to engage with education: gang affiliations, family issues, safeguarding concerns. Once we know, we can help them – and they thrive with our support.
Students - video Links
Our model works – but to keep it sustainable, we require additional support. Our sixth form is funded on the same model as any sixth form – but the support we provide goes far beyond this.
You can help us to maintain our model – and expand our work, to engage with children at South London Harris Academies as they start secondary school, to help them engage with education at their mainstream provision.
- A donation of £1,650 could provide behaviour mentoring for one student for an academic year
- A donation of £15,000 would provide extra Literacy acquisition and development for 50 students to acquire the skills to access level 3 vocational courses.
- A donation of £40,000 could provide a full-time counsellor to offer support for a group of 20 vulnerable students for an academic year. Our current counsellor is struggling to keep up with the case load and there is a long waiting list.
‘Treating our students like young adults and providing access to career defining vocational pathways empowers students: this transforms them into learners with 'fire in their belly' and ones who wish to succeed and change their life chances! It is this belief, and opportunity, that creates a newfound enthusiasm for learning. One that helps students to find the courage to tred where they feel like they have failed before – such as, believing they can achieve their GCSE Maths and English grades, and have a reason to do so.’
Whether it is with your time or financial support, making a contribution to Harris Professional Skills makes a real and immediate difference to the children in our care.
You can donate to a specific area, or make a donation to our unrestricted fund, which allows us to direct our support to the area that needs it most.
A one-off gift makes an immediate impact, and by becoming a Friend of Harris, through supporting us with a regular gift, whether monthly or annual, helps us to plan for the future.
There is no such thing as too small a gift - every donation makes a difference
To discuss ways of getting involved, or with any questions, please contact our fundraising team.
Make a one off donation
To make a one off donation, please click here
Make a regular donation (Friends of Harris)
To become a Friend and make a regular donation via Direct Debit please click here
Becoming a Friend of Harris, by donating a regular gift, whether weekly, monthly or annual, helps us to plan for the future.
Together with 7 others, a donation of £20 a month could provide behaviour mentoring for one student for an academic year.
Make an offline donation
If you would like to donate by cheque, please contact the fundraising team.
For other ways that you can donate, including in-kind donations, or if you wish to make a donation by bank transfer, please get in touch.