As well as providing volunteers, Yorkshire Water has reopened 3 of its education centres at a cost of pound;75,000, enabling primary school children to learn about water first hand.
For the last two years the company has helped primary school children learn to swim as part of the SwimCare campaign. Targeting children in Leeds, Bradford, York, Hull and Sheffield, the initiative aims to improve the water skills of those children that fail to achieve the national target. The campaign is continuing into a third year with existing partners, plus two further local authorities, Calderdale and Kirklees.
Number partners is a national programme that aims to promote the enjoyment of maths amongst children aged between 7-11. It is supported by a consortium of voluntary, public and private organisations. Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, HSBC and KPMG have all helped develop Number Partners in partnership with Business in the Community, Educational Communications and Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership. Count On (the extension of Maths Year 2000) is also supporting the project.
Number Partners involves volunteers from businesses spending time each week over a 12-week period, helping pupils with maths activities. The activities are largely based on maths games and are aimed at enhancing the pupils'
confidence and ability. An evaluation of the Number Partners programme in Tower Hamlets, East London, revealed the support of business volunteers had helped schools significantly improve levels of numeracy amongst pupils.
Ian Kilshaw, Numeracy Co-ordinator at Tower Hamlets EBP describes how successful the scheme has been "All schools have seen a considerable improvement in the children's numeracy, with over 90% rating the scheme as being very useful. However that is not the only benefit of the scheme. 75% of schools have noticed a significant improvement in children's self-confidence, whilst 60% noted a significant improvement in their communication skills as well."
The Number Partners consortium is now developing a toolkit that will enable schools and companies across the country to develop their own number partner programme.
E-Pals is a communications project to assist in the development of children's literacy and IT skills, in addition to building their confidence and providing an insight into the world of work. The programme connects pupils with employees from a company. They then communicate via a weekly email for 15-20 weeks. A pilot that was run in 2000 by Ericsson Mobile Communications showed that email relationships with employees from a global or national company provide positive role models for the children to encourage them to raise their aspirations and broaden their horizons.
This project can make a considerable impact on pupils. David Dixon, Headteacher of Bowbridge School said: "e-Pals has motivated and boosted the self-esteem of the children with teachers and learning support assistants helping the children form coherent messages."
Evaluations of e-Pals have revealed many benefits to pupils. The programme aims to present them with an opportunity to use computers for a purpose, helping them develop written skills and use ICT - from keyboard skills to the use of email. It also presents an opportunity for pupils to communicate with an adult they do not know and offers them an insight into the workplace.
WH SMITH TXT
WH Smith has recently launched its new community investment programme, WH Smith TXT. This programme works with over 100 selected secondary schools across the UK and helps teachers raise literacy standards of students aged 11-14. The total value of this project over three years is pound;1.5 million .
WHSmith TXT has two key elements. Firstly, WHSmith is providing each participating school with pound;4,000 worth of books, magazines and gift vouchers each year absolutely free for three years. Secondly, the programme encourages the development of mutually beneficial links between each school and their local WHSmith store. These links aim to support the sharing of skills between teachers and store staff through a range of activities including volunteer reading, student mentoring and work placements.
The programme has been drawn up in consultation with the DfES and teachers to ensure the concept, selection criteria and resource offer complement the English strand of the government's Key Stage 3 National Strategy, and add real value to the work already being undertaken by schools.
Commenting on the programme, Richard Handover, Group Chief Executive, WHSmith plc., said: "It is essential that young people receive the best possible education and I passionately believe that business has a part to play in helping schools to achieve this. Through WHSmith TXT we are focusing our community efforts on a project that will help to make a real difference to literacy standards in schools and to the confidence of the students involved."
TESCO COMPUTERS FOR SCHOOLS
Now in its 11th year, Tesco Computers for Schools is the longest running initiative of its kind and has remained focused on its objective to provide much needed ICT equipment to schools across the UK. Since 1992, Tesco has given over pound;70 million worth of equipment to UK schools, including 46,200 state-of-the-art computers and over 394,000 additional items of equipment, with items such as digital cameras and keyboards becoming increasingly popular.
Over 1,000 new schools have already registered to take part in the scheme this year, which means that more than 23,000 schools now participate each year - that's over two-thirds of all UK schools.
Tesco Chief Executive, Terry Leahy says: "We are delighted that Tesco Computers for Schools continues to be such a great success. Our customers tell us they like to be able to give something back to their local community and have demonstrated this by supporting the scheme so strongly. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of teachers, pupils, parents, customers and staff who have taken part in the scheme over the past 11 years, and continue to do so."
IBM KID SMART
IBM developed the KidSmart Early Learning programme to introduce computers to children of pre-school age. Introduced in the UK two years ago, there are now 125 KidSmart installations in 16 Local Education Authorities across the country.
IBM plans to install a further 150 units this year plus another 300 units over the next 2 years. The settings are mainly in disadvantaged areas, in line with IBM's policy of helping to address need and reducing the "digital divide" between children from low-income families and those with greater opportunities. The settings include play-groups, nurseries, early excellence centres, family centres and nursery classrooms.
In order to find suitable settings for KidSmart and provide essential training, IBM worked with the British Association for Early Childhood Education.
This has been a very effective partnership and has contributed significantly to the success of the project.
A report written by John Siraj-Blatchford from the University of Cambridge and Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford from the University of London, found that the KidSmart programme has led to 'significant improvements in every area of the information and communications technology (ICT) curriculum within a year.'
Children have taken to the KidSmart centres eagerly and both parents and educational practitioners have been delighted with the improved access to new technology. IBM hopes to encourage online collaboration between nurseries using KidSmart where work could be exchanged and projects shared.
Reading support. Right to read. www.righttoread.com
Volunteer Reading Help www.volunteer-reading-help. co.uk
National Literacy Trust www.literacytrust.org.uk
Maths support Number Partners www.numberpartners.org
Educational resources Educational communications 020 7401 4000
Business in the Community www.bitc.org.ukeducation National EBP Network www.ebp.org.uk