June’s meeting with Chamber member ‘Education Futures Trust’

Established in 2012 after school heads and local leaders chose to create an independent organisation which would benefit vulnerable members within the local community, our newest chamber member shared how they have begun to transform the underused land into an educational hub in our town.

In our June 2023 meeting we heard from Chief Executive, Carole Dixon, and Deputy & Learning Manager, Shar Brown, from Education Futures Trust, as well as Curriculum Manager, Jonathon Searle from Plumpton College.

The morning started by members gathering in one of the latest additions to the space, a net zero classroom which has been funded by the Town Deal Project as well as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The multiuse classroom which is managed by Education Futures Trust can be used for a variety of courses they offer. From here, members were split into two groups to be taken on a guided tour by Carole and Shar.

During the tour, we got the chance to explore the grounds which is home to the Enterprise Libraries (storage containers) filled with a variety of tools and sports equipment for the Trust users, the forest school area, another classroom space, as well as seeing the bird houses and mud sinks made from scrap materials by their users.

After achieving a charitable status on 1st March 2012, this enabled EFT to move forward and meet its obligations, continuing to improve the life-chances of children and families of those living in Hastings, St Leonards, and the surrounding area through education. Its professional team of both employees and volunteers work with families, young people, adults and schools, through education such as: building resilience; enhancing mental well-being; raising aspirations; providing support; encouraging sustainable change; providing or accessing high quality, innovation learning; developing a voice for children vulnerable adults; finding creative solutions.

“In group settings, we usually begin by sitting in an arch. This is because for a lot of our users, eye-contact is something they may struggle with. Over time we can help them to overcome this barrier and build on their confidence.”

— Shar Brown, Deputy and Learning Manager

The EFT is dedicated to supporting and helping children and families through their various projects alongside their Keyworkers and Learning Mentors, helping to remove barriers, provide intensive 1-to-1 support and develop resilience. For children, they run Forest Schools, sports activities and art-based workshops during the school holidays and a range of afterschool activities around Hastings.

“We are proud of the way that the site is developing. Children and adults tell us that The Firs is their safe place and that they enjoy their time with us. Building confidence in this way begins the learning journey, that allows those we work with to start taking control of their own lives.”

— Carole Dixon, Chief Executive

Chamber members made their way back to the classroom space where we heard from Jonathon about its plans to bring Plumpton College to Hastings as part of a seven-year project which hopes to benefit the town and community. With this plan, it will allow Plumpton College to deliver a green, environmental, and land-based curriculum – developing the site at The Firs and working from the classroom built specifically to meet the needs of a diverse range of local students. Carole also described ways that businesses could get involved in the site, especially for the benefit of their employees.

Thank you to Education Futures Trust for hosting our meeting and for giving chamber members the chance to hear about what they are doing for the community, in addition to their future plans! To find out more about our upcoming meetings and booking your spot, visit our Events page.