RIANNA, 17, had a difficult school life, moving through several schools until she was home-educated leading up to her exams.

She was very shy and suffered from bullying during her time at school. While studying at home at the age of 15, she volunteered at Charmouth School as her younger brother was a pupil there.

She started an apprenticeship as a teaching assistant, studying for her Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools qualification, in November 2010.

She currently works in the Reception Class but has gained experience throughout Key Stage 1, as well as volunteering still as a ‘dinner lady’.

She really enjoys her work, especially getting the children to develop their creative talents.

This apprenticeship programme has made a real difference to Rianna’s life – she feels she has changed a lot, becoming more confident.

“It has been a real eye opener for her.

Her intention is to continue to learn, and to emphasise this point Rianna has arranged to attend a British Sign Language course so that she can communicate better with those children who have hearing impairments.

She says that apprenticeships “are the best way to learn and get a job”, and she has recommended to lots of people that they do one.

Her supervisor, class teacher Helen Van Der Plank, said: “Rianna’s progress has been phenomenal, she has gained so much confidence and taken initiative in her own self development.

“The rest of the school staff have also commented on how she has changed. She is very focused and easily expresses her opinions.”

Her assessor, Carol Sugrue, added: “I have certainly seen her grow in confidence and become more communicative since she started this apprenticeship, the transformation has been a pleasure to see.

“I think the apprenticeship has given her the confidence, insight and the belief in herself to enable her to go forward with other types of learning.”