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“Intelligence is not only measured by exam results” The game-changing school doing things differently

School isn't for everyone - but Navigators is.

Navigators provide one-to-one mentoring for students who, for lots of different reasons, are not currently finding success in mainstream education settings.

They have seen the most amazing results with their nurturing approach which is completely child-centred and interest-led – they regularly deal with children and young people who do not leave their bedrooms and will not attend school.


Navigators, initially only working with younger people,  has just opened its first accredited specialised post-16 provision, Navigators College.

The learning centre “Burgess Hub” in Harpurhey was officially opened by acclaimed Greater Manchester-born poet, playwright, memoirist, and broadcaster Lemn Sissay OBE.

How does Navigators work?


Navigators College provides skills for young people who are at risk of or currently not in education, employment or training (NEET) and have seen life-changing results using their unique, individualised, interest-led learning approach.

The new centre will provide an inclusive hub for the Navigators students whilst providing a programme of learning from an ambitious curriculum framework.

It represents an exciting milestone for Navigators as the region’s leading alternative education provision, which continues to shape the future of a new personal, social and academic offer for children and young people.

One-to-one teaching

Navigators College will include several safe one-to-one nurturing and therapeutic learning spaces.

This will support students who face issues around their social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) – something which many of the students enrolled in the Navigators programme are facing, in line with a growing national crisis in young people’s social anxiety and mental health issues.

The Navigators Level 1 in Personal Development and Level 1 Passport to Work qualifications provide young people aged 16 and over with the independence and employability skills to start their journey into adult life.

It equips students with the skills to thrive among their peers, within their communities and in future employment.

Preparing Students for life

Using the three core strands of Relationships, Health & Wellbeing and Living in the Wider World, together with Managing Money, Travel Training and Careers and Work Experience, the students become well prepared for life to be active citizens and have a successful transition into their next chosen pathway.

Navigators College is also working with partner businesses to provide work experience and employment opportunities for students at the end of the two-year course.

Lemn Sissay OBE

Lemn Sissay Navigators

Lemn Sissay said: “It’s been wonderful to officially open Navigators first college.

“I would have loved there to be something like this when I was growing up – a programme that is persistent and persuasive in making sure that ALL young people get the opportunity to build a happy life for themselves, no matter what challenges they might be facing.

“The Navigators programme is nurturing, patient and individualised and it’s inspiring to see the students thrive in that environment.

“I’m glad that Navigators are now bringing this approach to school leavers too. It’s been great to be part of something that is making a real difference.”

Head of Provision at Navigators Liz Harris added:

“We are thrilled to be opening our first accredited specialist nurture and therapeutic learning centre here in Harpurhey and are delighted to be working alongside Lemn to celebrate this milestone.

“Lemn’s experiences and viewpoint around the potential of young people from all backgrounds and experiences align perfectly with our values.

“We believe that intelligence is composite – it is not only measured by academia and exam results.

“We also know that a traditional education pathway cannot meet all students’ needs when young people hit 16, and so working alongside local authorities, we are providing much-needed support to fill the gap.

“We have seen huge success within the 10 – 16 age group using our specialist approach and Navigators is now reshaping the education offer for school leavers to promote lifelong learning in their chosen pathway with Navigators College.

“We want to support young people everywhere to build a happy, and successful future. And we, like Lemn, believe that whatever experiences a young person may be facing, with the right support, attention and nurture they can overcome those challenges and create a bright future.”

Navigators have developed a unique approach to engaging with young people who currently cannot work or interact effectively in their current setting or the community.

The principles of Navigators’ specialist approach centres around matching a specialist mentor to each student, working collaboratively and daily on a one-to-one basis with young people to explore what genuinely interests them and building from there.

Trust and confidence grows over consistent sessions and the student is empowered to work out a path for success together with their mentor.

Navigators have seen unprecedented levels of success in reaching young people who, in some cases, hadn’t been in education or even left their bedrooms for months before joining the programme.

With the number of young people NEET and school absences at record highs alongside the rise of so-called ‘ghost children’ within the education sector, sadly the demand for alternative education providers has increased.

Navigators work together with local authorities to support young people across Greater Manchester.

During the last academic year, 73% of the Y11 cohort achieved NCFE Functional Skills Maths qualifications ranging from entry-level to level 2, 62% achieved English Reading Functional Skills qualification and 60% English Writing.

The students at Navigators had extremely low or non-attendance levels in their previous settings prior to attending, demonstrating life-changing results for both the student and their families alike.

You can find out more about Navigators by clicking here

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