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Our Study Programme is aimed at 16-19 year-olds who may struggle with mainstream education, and supports learners with social, emotional and mental health needs as well as special educational needs and disabilities. We help them to continue their education and build skills to gain employment, apprenticeships and life skills to develop independence, with a small group of up to 30 students per cohort. Our doors are also open for 16-25 year-olds with Educational Health Care Plans (EHCP).

Meet the team

  • Sharon Hempton-Smith

    Sharon's career began in Nursing, having qualified in 1984 and later working at Worcester University as a lecturer responsible for educating pre and post registration nurses. Sharon has many years experience of developing and supporting learning, and thrives as the Senior Manager for our Study Programme. Sharon is also our nominated lead for Safeguarding as well as Ofsted and can definitely vouch that no two days are the same!

    Sharon Hempton-Smith

    Senior Manager for Quality & Compliance

  • Lee Furnell

    Lee has been with Hoople for 6 years and is the Lead Tutor for the Study Programme. He has a huge knowledge of Educational Healthcare Planning and works closely with other agencies to ensure the best possible provision for his students on placement, helping each individual make the most out of their time studying with us.

    Lee Furnell

    Tutor & Assessor

  • Zoe Backhouse

    After joining Hoople in 2017 as a Teaching Assistant, Zoe completed her teacher training in 2019 and is now a fully qualified Tutor on our Study Programme. Zoe has worked in learning disabilities related roles for over 20 years so has a wide range of knowledge in this area. She is hugely passionate in her role of supporting the students and loves helping them move forward with their independence as well as educationally.

    Zoe Backhouse

    Tutor & Assessor

  • Jim Hughston

    Jim is a longstanding member of the Study Programme team, and has been working at Hoople since its inception, previously working as a care manager in the health and social care sector. As a tutor, Jim's main role is to support learners to achieve their aims and objectives through individualised programmes involving work placements, maths and English, life skills and enrichment activities.

    Jim Hughston

    Tutor & Assessor

  • Clare Town

    Clare is our Teaching Assistant and Job Coach, which involves helping the learners to achieve their goals by supporting them academically and providing emotional support when needed. With many different teaching roles over the years, the most unusual one was flying for 10 years for Virgin Atlantic as an in-flight beauty therapist and trainer- during that time she once gave Princess Diana a manicure on the way to Tokyo!

    Clare Town

    Teaching Assistant & Job Coach


As a learner, will I get paid?

No, you won’t. However, some learners will be able to apply for a weekly bursary for help with transport, meals and equipment. Even though you won’t get paid, the study programme will give you the opportunity to achieve qualifications, gain some work experience, make new friends and boost your confidence levels.

How much do study programmes cost?

There will be no charge to you as the learners placements are funded either via Government funding or through the EHCP funding.

How long do study programmes last?

Usually for one academic year, but some learners do stay longer and that can be discussed.

When can I start?

We have a new cohort of learners in September of each year, but do take on new learners throughout the year. Please get in touch and we can discuss your individual needs.

Where will I attend the study programme?

We are based at Nelson Building in Whitecross, Hereford. Some learners come to the centre three days a week, some come for bite-sized sessions and others we meet outside of the centre depending on individual needs.

Will there be opportunities to gain work experience?

Yes, we will help you to find a work placement that suits your needs and preferences.

Will I get any help or support?

Yes, you will be allocated a dedicated tutor who will be there to help you to set your goals and offer advice and guidance along the way.

What happens after the study programme?

The study programme will help you to choose your next step, which could be further education, an apprenticeship, traineeship or employment.

Read our reviews

From a parent regarding our Study Programme

I would highly recommend Hoople Education to others especially parents with young people who have learning difficulties and Autism and cannot access mainstream colleges. The small groups, diversity of curriculum and high staff ratio has enabled my son to build his confidence and raise his self-esteem whilst learning about future opportunities when his education has finished. Hoople have provided the perfect transition from special education setting into the next stage using a balance of creating independence for my son but with an appropriate amount of support too.

Study Programme Student

I enjoy seeing my friends and socialising. I like the fact that we have freedom and get treated like an adult. I am supported when I struggle. I enjoyed my work placement. I’ve enjoyed Functional Skills and ASDAN which helps me get ready for the outside world.

Study Programme Student

I have had a great few years at Hoople Study Programme. I enjoy the lessons and work placements. I like our enrichment fun activities that we do as a treat for our hard work like watching a film or going out for a walk.

Contact Hoople Education

General Enquiries


Hoople Education
The Nelson Building,
Whitecross Road,



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