Frances is not happy when we get down to the main campus. There is some controversy about the car seat and how it slots into the buggy. It gets sorted though and we head off to find Fiona [not her real name].
As we are waiting – Mia is still asleep – I ask France about her career choice. She wants to re-do her GCSEs so we can study for Level 2 Beauty Therapy. She wants to eventually study spa therapy and, she says, own her own spa.“Have you been in a spa, seen what it’s like?” I ask.
“No, but I can imagine it’s very relaxing. Must be a nice job.”
We don’t have to wait long before Fiona is showing us to a pleasant enough interview room. She is very good at her job. She asks questions, listens to the responses and makes notes on carbonless paper but, unlike John at the last place, isn’t able to read between the lines. She’s younger, more professional (corporate even), but lacks the experience to know there is more to this young person than the answers she is giving to these standard questions.
Turns out there is a strong possibility there’ll be a beauty therapy course starting in January at a satellite campus on Frances’ side of town. She could do English and Maths alongside it.
“Can I apply?” she asks.
“I can put you forward,” says Fiona, “there isn’t an application as such. But if it’s running, I’m pretty sure you will get on.”
“So, I don’t need to fill in anything?” This seems too easy.
“You’re in the NEET category – not in education, employment or training – which means there are targeted opportunities for you,” explains Fiona.
Fiona has it all covered. It takes less than 15 minutes. Frances signs the carbonless form and is given a copy. Outside I explain NEET again to Frances: she’s a statistic and if she gets on the course she’ll still be a statistic but a positive one.
Mia is still asleep as we leave the college.