Skills for life


New Meaning Foundation offers a range of alternative and further education programmes for people aged

14-16, 16-19, 19+

Getting a vocation can be hard. For young people it might be that the formality and structure of mainstream education didn’t work out for them, which might have led to low attainment and engagement. Coming away from school without the normal progression pathway keys, like English and Maths qualifications, can mean that people feel that doors are closed to them. It can be expressed as disinterest and negativity or it could be a sense of hopelessness, but the reality for many is that they’ve not yet tuned into something that works for them. It’s like something needs to flick the switch. Or it may be that there have been other life experiences that have been blocking their path.

For adults the barriers to work might have begun when they were young, or it may be that life has been challenging more recently. The reasons are always complex.

New Meaning Foundation is experienced with working with these people and we believe we can help them to fulfil their potential. We patiently work in a holistic way to understand their barriers to learning and to work out a way forward. We want to help learners to be inspired about possibilities and opportunities and then to see that they can take more control of their future. 

For 14-16 year olds our Alternative Provision involves partnering with the school the young person is registered with. For 16-19 year olds we offer our year-long further education programmes as an alternative to sixth form college. For adults we have a range of options including some of the year-long courses as well as short courses in tiling, carpentry and painting.  Everyone deserves the chance to learn to earn.




1. Work and Study Programme – covering Cambridgeshire and Suffolk

16-19 year olds can attend a work experience placement of their choice for 39 weeks at 15+ hours per week, with a New Meaning Mentor helping to support them adjust and learn new workplace habits. Alongside this experience, our trainees can qualify in English, Maths and Employability Skills between Entry 3 and Level 2 with one-to-one, safe, supportive tutoring each week.

2. Carpentry & Joinery (Waterbeach)

If you don’t or didn’t fit in at school or college, our informal, small group training centre might suit you. Better still, we have live build works so your learning can be applied to real work. We build small, modern, modular homes to a high quality, low carbon standard at our workshop – The Rubb Building – at Waterbeach Barracks. These homes are used as a training model to help you gain experience and skills in construction in a safe, friendly, informal team.

3. Foundations for Future

A differentiated pathway that has been developed based on the Preparing for Adulthood Framework. It is based on elements of the long-established proven programmes “PALS – Proactive Life Skills” and “PAWS – Proactive Work Skills” developed by New Meaning in 2006. Includes Functional and Living Skills and is designed to help young people aged 14+ (whether or not they are an EHCP holder) to prepare for living in the real world. Some aspects of this modular programme might be eligible for full funding for 19+ year olds. Ask us for more information.

Want to make a referral to us? Click on the button below to download our admissions form and risk assessment

Further education

Qualifications for young people in Cambridge and beyond.

Operation Encompass

Operation Encompass is a charitable organisation set up in 2011. It has since enabled effective interventions to many thousands of children who’ve experienced domestic abuse.

We are registered with it as an education setting in Cambridgeshire.  To learn more go to

Our Partners

We are proud and honoured to be working with the following organisations
It Takes a City logo
Cambridge & Peterborough Combined Authority
Greater Cambridge Partnership
Cambridge & Peterborough Combined Authority
Learn Together
Cooke Curtis & Co
in the workshop at NMF
Cambridge New Meaning building
modular homes for homeless
New Meaning Cambridge
Modular homes for homeless
New Meaning Cambridge
New Meaning Cambridge
New Meaning Cambridge
New Meaning Cambridge

Find out more about
New Meaning Foundation

My work coach, John Evans, showed me how to recognise my strengths, to gain confidence and make positive choices and now I have a job here today with the Catering Company

Year 11 Student, Nightingale Academy “Beat NEET” course, 2014


I achieved things during the course of these workshops that I know I would not have done without them:

– Properly recognizing my strengths, weaknesses, transferable skills and encouraging me to seek validation of these from ex working colleagues and valued friends.

– Identifying hurdles to my gaining future work and how to overcome these with positive actions

– Creating a personal action plan that recognizes and sets targets as to how that is going to happen week by week into the future.

– They gave me and I know they gave others a positive confidence to keep trying, value what we have to offer and better represent ourselves to potential employers in the future.

– New Meaning and these sessions gave me time to reflect on my own situation and create new strategies for my future. The sessions also indicated to me that there are organisations out there that care and are able to deliver back to work training on behalf of multi needing groups of people.

Thank you New Meaning Foundation

Senior Manager (recently redundant) Social Housing Sector

It’s boosted my confidence a hell of a lot, because there’s no way I’d have been able to sit in a group like this and talk like I am doing now. And like, if someone phones me up and says: What are you wanting to achieve? Well I say I’m getting there because I’ve had help from PALS

Linda Chilton
Spirita Resident
Founder of Village Community Drama Project & Village Drop-in Advice Centre

The employment involved working in the prototype engineering technical workshop.

Have sign confidential agreement with organisation.

I thank you for your support and the very excellent advice that help me get employment with this organisation.

Being an older man and out of work for some time, you gave me the confidence to apply for jobs and to perform at the interview.

Working with Initiative ESF Programme, Cambridge 2015

I achieved things during the course of these workshops that I know I would not have done without them:

– Properly recognizing my strengths, weaknesses, transferrable skills

– Identifying hurdles to my gaining future work and how to overcome these with positive actions

– They gave me and I know they gave others a positive confidence to keep trying, value what we have to offer and better represent ourselves to potential employers in the future

Thank you New Meaning

Senior Manager, Homeless Support Sector
Working with Initiative ESF Programme, Cambridge 2015

I nearly didn’t turn up, I though; ‘oh its not for me, it’s going to be rubbish’ but the very first session we had was really good. Really positive feedback and it sort of gave me a line where I wanted to go in life.

Fleur Dainty
Derby Homes Resident
Obtained employment with Derby Homes Customer Call Centre

The process came alive on day two and when we got the cross functional teams involved… I loved it… the way people have approach the discussions has been great.

Michael Reece
Aster Property Management

The course leaders have taken a group of men and women of varying age groups with different life styles and experiences, some of whom had very little self esteem. They showed them that they are able to express themselves in a constructive way, that their opinions and ideas are of value, and that they could take these forward into positive action.

Wyn Buchan
Derby Homes Resident

All these people share one thing; we have no future! These PALS sessions are giving us hope; great networking opportunities, inspiration and a philosophy.

Trevor Hibbert
Derwent Living Resident

Student Management Team must be commended and are excellent ambassadors for the school.

The energy, enthusiasm and momentum behind the business and community activities is plain for all the see.

DoE Visitor
Tess PAVE Mentor Project (Clacton)

The Community Engagement workshop provided a radically different approach to community engagement than typically has been used in the renewables sector to date. Seeking to find a genuine win-win for the community and the developer, it offers perhaps the most tangible route to build support for a development, and hence influence a planning committee and the chances of planning consent. David Lett was a great facilitator who was able to convey complex theories and processes easily and with humour.

Tom Charrier
Stephenson Halliday

The net result for our business was 90% reduction in staff turnover, significantly reducing our ongoing recruitment and training costs.

Neil Sharma
Group Finance Director, Rivinton Street Holdings plc

I have achieved my life’s dream now… thanks to PALS

Edwin Morley
Spirita Resident
Founder of St Anns Community Radio Station (his life’s dream)

One session showed you that you had more good points and skills than you ever thought you had and really made you think.

Derby Homes Focus Group

Helping our customers back into employment is transformational for them, makes business sense for us, and is positive for the wider community.

New Meaning has delivered outstanding results through “Work with Initiative”, in many cases succeeding where other provision has failed.

Their approach is different: it focuses on the individual, engenders confidence and self belief and, best of all, it works!

Caroline Titley
Bracknell Forest Homes

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Rubb Building
Waterbeach Barracks
Denny End Road

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