Ysgol Y deri 6th form students

Project Minibus: The kids of Ysgol y Deri are raising money to improve their work prospects

Admiral UK has already pledged £10,000 after hearing their pitch

PENARTH’S famous special educational needs school is fundraising for a new minibus to help sixth-formers get to work experience.

Ysgol y Deri is the largest such school in Britain and features in a BBC Wales TV series. It opened in 2014 with 255 students and now has 513 across four sites in Penarth and Barry.

However, it still has the same number of minibuses as when it started, so students have launched an appeal to raise £20,000 to buy a bus to take them to placements all over Cardiff.

“The placements are all lined up, we just don’t have any way of getting them there, ” said Stacey Long, the school’s career curriculum lead.

The appeal took a huge step forwards when the pupils pitched to Admiral UK and convinced bosses to put £10,000 towards the campaign.

Erin and Jamie leading the pitch for Ysgol y Deri for Admiral UK executives

Students are often at Ysgol y Deri for their whole school career, and leaving that supportive bubble aged 18/19 can be difficult.

Ms Long recently saw some ex-students at a barbecue and finding out that lots of them were no longer in employment had left her feeling “broken”.

She said work experience was very important for students, as it made them more comfortable with workplaces, and allowed employers to see how capable their students are.

Head girl Erin, 18, wants to become a chef as she really enjoys cooking, especially cakes. She recently managed to get some experience in the café at Llandough Hospital where she learnt how to use the till and make food.

Erin says the rest of the students in her year should have the same opportunity.

“(The fundraiser) is really important because at the moment we have no way of getting there,” she said.

The students made a short video with SLAM! Media to explain why work experience is so important to them. Watch it here.

So far, Project Minibus has raised £11,147, and pupils hope to hit their target in the New Year, so that new sixth-formers can go on work experience next term.

Ysgol Y deri 6th form students
The new 6th formers, who need the bus to get to their work experience next term.

“Our budget is tight, but then so is everyone’s.” said Ms Long when asked if she was frustrated by having to fundraise for something so important to the students. The school has some autonomy in how it spends its budget, but that doesn’t mean they choose how much they get.