Cementing local relationships

22nd July 2011 at 01:00
A Glenrothes primary teamed up with a local housebuilder - and scooped a Scottish Education Award for its get-up-and-go attitude, says Chris Small

An enterprise ethos runs through the whole of Caskieberran," says Alison Henderson, headteacher of the Glenrothes primary which won the Enterprise and Employability Across Learning (Primary and Early Years) trophy at last month's Scottish Education Awards.

The school has been in a fruitful business partnership with local housebuilder Lomond Group for two years. It is a relationship that has paid dividends for pupils, spawning a series of initiatives that have helped them learn about the job market and interview techniques and immersed them in business development ideas.

As part of the World of Work project, P6 and P7 pupils were invited to complete applications for different positions at the company. Job vacancy notices were placed on the classroom wall so the youngsters could choose the career route that most interested them. They then visited Lomond Group's Glenrothes office for mock job interviews. Company director Alan Seath faced them across the table, mixing skills testing with advice on how to prepare for interviews and suggestions for responses they could rehearse with parents.

Mr Seath, who allocated posts for the pupils and sent out letters of appointment following the interviews, said: "The interviews were intended to be a fun introduction to an important life skill. I was extremely impressed with all the pupils."

Next, the school collaborated with motivational speaking company Tree of Knowledge (ToK), which handed over the running of part of the company to the pupils so they could plan and host "Fun@Work?", a motivational training event. The initiative was part of ToK Apprentice, a long-running project for secondary schools, but a first for P7s.

To get a genuine taste of corporate event management, the children set up a micro-business called TEAM (To Entertain And Motivate). Working together on a tight deadline, they chose a venue, gathered costings, organised room layouts, arranged for refreshments and persuaded representatives from local businesses to part with pound;100 to attend.

The event took place at Balbirnie House Hotel in Markinch, with presentations, a two-course lunch and a mind-reading show. Over lunch, children chatted to delegates. "We got such good feedback about how confident and professional the children were," Mrs Henderson says.

She adds that the Scottish Education Award is "for the whole school". She is "delighted" by it but, with a trophy cabinet under construction at the school during the last week of term, it is not the first, and unlikely to be the last.

GIMME FIVE: BUSHES PRIMARY NAILS BUSINESS COMPETITION

Bushes Primary won the Entrepreneurial Learning Award for Sparkles Nail Bar, created in 2009 by four P7 girls. Despite anxieties about mess, head Moira Monaghan gave the pupils permission to go ahead, then forgot all about the project. A month on, she met a colleague in the corridor admiring her nails. The girls had sent out permission slips to parents and commandeered a maths resource room, filling it with tables and angle-point lamps. Now a fully fledged social enterprise, Sparkles funnels money to charity. "It's brought nothing but glory and helped to build a culture of can-do in the school," said Mrs Monaghan.

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