New college is ray of hope for teens who struggle with academia

Mirror image: Neil Axe, right, and Graham Cadle of the CIC UK Training College based above Lynx Gym in Rabans Close, Aylesbury
Mirror image: Neil Axe, right, and Graham Cadle of the CIC UK Training College based above Lynx Gym in Rabans Close, Aylesbury

Two teachers who launched an award-winning youth programme for troubled teenagers are branching out to help youngsters who struggle with mainstream school.

Neil Axe and Graham Cadle came up with the 12-week MASK course in 2011 – it went on to win the Pride of Aylesbury awards the following year – but now they have launched the CIC UK Training College just in time for the new term in September.

The Cultural Intelligence Consultancy UK works with 14 to 19 year olds who don’t get on well in a normal classroom environment, and offers a variety of NCFE-accredited courses in maths, English, personal and social development, employment skills and more.

The students enrol on a year-long 540-hour course which sees them spend three days at the CIC UK freestyle academy in Rabans Close, Aylesbury, while still going to school and doing work experience elsewhere.

As Neil has 45 years experience in martial arts, all courses taught have a martial art element, and the pair believe there is nothing like it on offer anywhere in the country.

Neil, who turned his life around after being sucked in by gang culture, said: “We use the martial arts as a hook, and it then helps them relate to maths and English better.

“Say we’re in class – we get them to put a value on the punches and kicks, so that when they do their sums later, they can think back and remember.”

Graham, who lives in Broughton, said the course has enjoyed much success: “We started off as an intervention for kids behaving poorly in schools with the MASK programme, but now we’re crystallizing our approach to help those students who aren’t neccessarily troubled, but they’re not your straight A students and they might not cope well in a class of 29 other kids.”

The pair work with small class numbers of no more than 12 youngsters, and guide them through the course before they take part in an official ‘passing out’ ceremony.

But despite being highly praised and getting hugely positive feedback – including from Aylesbury MP David Lidington – funding remains a sticking point.

Graham applied for £1.2m worth of grants last year, but was awarded just £2,000 by Aylesbury Town Council.

He said: “We were really grateful, but to put it into perspective – it costs £24,000 to put on one MASK course.”

Graham, who has been friends with Neil for 35 years, is now working to convince schools to allocate part of their Pupil Premium funding to to invest in the motivational courses they have on offer.

Neil and Graham are in talks with Aylesbury College, and hope to form partnerships with schools including Aylesbury Vale Academy, The Grange and Mandeville School in the future.

The pair will still be running MASK, but in the form of a truncated six-week course over the summer holidays.

For more information, call Graham on 07791 720646 or visit the website here.