Recognising the best UK school-business programmes that are working to ensure that all young people, regardless of postcode or family income, are able to build successful working lives.
Young people are becoming increasingly polarised into those who succeed at school and beyond and those who do not because of their social background. Educational inequality impacts not only the health, well-being and career options of our young people, it also leads to wasted potential at a time when businesses are struggling to recruit the skills they need. Responsible businesses have a vital role to play in building a diverse, effective and skilled workforce, and helping to create economically viable, cohesive communities.
The UBS Award for Education recognises those school-business programmes that are working to eradicate educational disadvantage and ensure that young people gain the skills, knowledge and experience they need to be successful at school and beyond. We are looking for long term commitments developed between schools and businesses working in partnership, not one off activities.
Young Readers Programme, with the National Literacy Trust
With one in five UK children leaving primary school unable to read at the expected level, poor literacy remains a real barrier to getting on in life. British Land, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, inspires schoolchildren through its Young Readers programme which takes literacy out of the classroom – often through professional storytellers to help nurture the pleasure of reading. The commercial property company works with young people who need the most support, and nearly 20,000 children from 224 schools have benefited from the programme.
The legal company CMS is soon to merge with Nabarro and Olswang but it will be bringing with it a long term and powerful mentoring scheme that works with young people in schools, enhancing their personal growth and development whilst broadening their social and economic horizons.
At the Cardinal Pole in East London Year 10 students are matched with volunteer business mentors working in the City, unlocking social mobility opportunities. The young people travel to CMS’ London offices, where they work together to develop the hard and soft skills needed for further education, training or careers. The business has seen improvements in its own employee volunteers, such as improved well-being and the honing of critical skills such as adaptability, communication, leadership and problem solving.
Dragon LNG Darwin Centre Experience
Not for nothing did Kate Evan-Hughes, Director of Childrenand Schools at Pembrokeshire County Council, remark of the Darwin Centre Experience: “All schools in Pembrokeshire see the project as an integral part of the school curriculum; many Head teachers describe the project as ‘inspirational.” Dragon LNG’s education programme – at its natural gas import terminal at Milford Haven – has sparked the imaginations of thousands of school pupils across the Welsh county. The Darwin Centre Experience is committed to winning the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s leaders in STEM industries, aiming to achieve this through hands-on outdoor STEM activities and classroom sessions.
Dragon LNG, a clean gas company owned by Shell and Petronas, works with 76 local schools (61 of which are primaries) with the long-term goal of addressing high youth unemployment in a rural county which does not have a university. Inclusivity is key to accessing talent in hard to reach areas. All Pembrokeshire schools have free site access, including transport; additionally extra fieldtrips are scheduled for local schools with high Free School Meals rates. A three year study, delivered by the Local Education Authority, to target younger school children, began in September 2016.
Get into STEM
Figures show the UK desperately needs to find 100,000 graduates each year from science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) backgrounds in order to meet future demands; the country currently produces 80% of that figure. Get into STEM is a programme, delivered by the construction company Esh, providing free high quality learning resources to thousands of primary school children in communities across the North of England and Scotland.
To date more than 100 schools have engaged over 3,000 students, including two specialist schools for pupils with special needs. As well as reinforcing important health and safety messages, the programme aims to inspire young people – the workforce of the tomorrow – about the vast opportunities for meaningful careers in STEM industries.
The Greggs Breakfast Club Partnership
Recent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies outlined how free breakfasts are boosting children’s progression in maths and English. The report confirmed what Greggs have been aware of for some time: that a nutritional breakfast has many benefits and last Christmas a piece of research by Durham University into the Greggs Breakfast Club scheme demonstrated the success of the Greggs’ model when viewing pupil progression between KS1 and KS2.
The food-on-the-go retailer, which has over 1,750 outlets throughout the country, hopes to bring its collaborative programme to at least 500 primary schools in areas of greatest need. Collectively the business-supported partnership has reached 405 schools, 95% of which are rated ‘below average’ as measured by Indices of Multiple Deprivation.
Hogan Lovells has supported a cluster of schools in north London for the past five years as part of a Business in the Community programme which matches businesses and schools for long term mentoring of both students and teachers to raise aspirations and help young people with their career options.
The law firm encourages clients and charity partners to participate in local schools too, ensuring that there is a sustainable pool of coaches and business mentors. They have reached 1,000 young people in Islington and helped them with their soft skills.
Working closely with one particular school, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the firm has doubled its target on employee volunteering, and now says that 23% of its London workforce take part in coaching or mentoring on the scheme. Employees buy into the partnership, which tailors interventions specifically to student and teacher needs. Recent success include setting up an after-school debating club, along with the teaching of Business Studies GSCE students with a focus on how law firms operate.
The Green Pioneers
Through its Green Pioneers programme, Midcounties Co-operative, an independent consumer organisation is raising awareness about sustainability whilst developing employability skills across the South West and West Midlands. In partnership with The Outward Bound Trust, an exciting three-month programme sees participants attend a practical residential at a local venue, interspersed with classroom activities and a visit to a Midcounties Co-operative trading site before a presentation to a group of senior representatives.
Having learnt about environmental issues – they return to school to launch in-school sustainability projects. The Midcounties Co-operative last year engaged with 9000 young people, linking up with 50 schools, including those in disadvantaged areas.
Research by the Money Advice Service shows that four in ten adults are not in control of their finances; and personal debt in the UK now exceeds £1.4 trillion. Meanwhile amid an ageing workforce, 12 million people are not saving enough for retirement.
It is easily argued that RBS’ flagship education financial education programme, MoneySense, is needed more than ever. The programme is powered by a network of more than 3,265 employee volunteers who deliver its workshops in schools, helping to bring real-life expertise and experience and learning for 5-18 year olds. RBS estimates its reach to be around 4.5 million young people, enriching a generation about good money management. At the end of last year, a total of 5,674 schools across UK and Ireland were registered.
STEM promotion for young people in education
Toyota takes a holistic approach to local engagement with education and training providers in and around its major manufacturing plant in Derbyshire. Strong partnerships have been forged with local schools and colleges Derby UTC and JCB Academy, as well as schools within 10 miles of its operation. This includes a particular focus on those in areas of low attainment in order to address stagnant social mobility in the area. In a local external engagement survey undertaken by the company last year, 87% of those surveyed had a positive view of the organisation and 37% said they are aware of its schools engagement programmes. Employees are actively encouraged to use their skills and experience to support young people in science, technology, engineering and maths. Additionally its HR team are involved in mock interview sessions helping to equip local students with the soft skills needed to succeed in their careers.
Like the way it transformed itself from traditional landfill and waste management services to become a leading recycling and energy resource firm, Viridor wants to change perceptions in students about career paths in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The clear driver for this was that the company had met challenges in trying to fill recruitment spots for its vital engineering roles. And so Viridor partnered with Oxfordshire’s Bicester School and adjoining Sixth Form College. The new programme which directly reaches 664 students between Key Stage 2 to 4 and Viridor’s early steps to creating a local talent pipeline was seen through nine students undertaking work placements at its Ardley facility.