National Award winners;Aim High Awards

26th June 1998 at 01:00
This year's outstanding projects in a very strong field.


* Winning company: Galloway News

* Entry: Newspapers in newspapers * The success: English lessons will never be the same again for Angela Spowart's Year 6 class at Dalbeattie Primary School, in Kirkcudbrightshire. The school was one of 14 set the task of producing a real newspaper - a supplement distributed with the Galloway News and its sister paper, the Dumfries and Galloway Standard. The result, the Dalbeattie Dragon, was a key part in a project on communication, involving communication skills, team working, problem solving and working to a deadline.

The project: Organised through the local education business partnership, the children visited the offices of the local newspaper in class groups and learned about layout, photography and advertising sales.

Let loose on the newpaper's computers, the children generated their own articles and advertisements, which were pasted on a layout grid, and the paper was put to bed.

Besides writing skills, the children's mathematics knowledge was put to the test as they worked out the print run and how many copies they could sell to the local community.

Angela Spowart says: "This was an excellent experience for a class as they have to work to a deadline. Seeing the finished product engendered a sense of achievement essential to promoting self-esteem."


* Winning company: Burger King (UK)

* Entry: Burger King Docklands Education Centre

* The success: Burger King's sponsorship of the London Docklands Education Centre has helped to provide a personalised and supportive learning environment for students aged 15 to 16 who have dropped out or been excluded from school. Annual careers awareness courses put on by Burger King have given the students the practical experience and the confidence needed to seek employment or to apply for further education.

The company's funding of sports and music equipment and extra-curricular activities has been crucial in encouraging attendance and raising self-esteem which has been reflected in exam success.

* The project: The Docklands Education Centre for excluded pupils on the Isle of Dogs is one of three learning support units run by the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Catering for 24 students, the centre has benefited greatly from active involvement by Burger King over the past five years, with the fast food chain initially paying for the refurbishment of the centre's building.

Grants have enabled the centre to become more self-sufficient in the sports and music it offers. Burger King's most important contribution has been to involve senior staff and personnel managers in annual careers awareness courses. They coach students on personal presentation, and telephone and interview techniques. Burger King funds a one-week Outward Bound course in Wales at the start of each school year to help build the all-important relationships between the students and staff, who will work as a team.

Centre team leader, Bill Bennett, says: "We're not the Burger King academy, but last week's OFSTED inspection gave us an 'excellent', and a lot of the credit must go to Burger King. Their support, particularly the team-building week in Wales, has been invaluable." * CATEGORY: SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS

* Winning company: BAA London Gatwick Airport

* Entry: St Piers Lingfield work experience programme

* The success: Epileptic students at St Piers Lingfield, a Surrey school for 5 to 19-year-olds with special needs, are getting the support they need to achieve national vocational qualifications at level 1 and 2 in business administration from a work experience scheme tailored for them by Gatwick airport.

The airport's office staff are helping students build skills and the confidence they need to go further up the education ladder or possibly into employment. One student on the Gatwick programme has now progressed to a higher level NVQ course at a mainstream college.

* The project: Gatwick airport establishes links with the students through a series of visits, workshops and presentations. Volunteer BAA staff review and accredit the students' experiences daily. Students are expected to perform a range of office duties, including photocopying, filing, word processing, taking messages and faxing documents. The staff say they benefit from increased motivation, patience and communication skills.

Terry Howson, the work experience co-ordinator at St Piers Lingfield, says:

"The staff at BAA Gatwick provide the ultimate in work experience for students with epilepsy and other difficulties. They give a commitment to the students which is exceptional."


* Winning company: Wincanton Logistics

* Entry: Rochdale Better Reading Partnership

* The success: Poor readers have a much better chance of getting back on track thanks to the enthusiastic support from one of Britain's leading warehousing and distribution companies, Wincanton Logistics. The company has been sending volunteers to 20 primary schools to help children learn to read. Tests show that after 10 weeks of mentoring, reading age rises by eight months.

* The project: As one of the biggest local employers, Wincanton has encouraged others to join the partnership and now works with 14 other local companies and voluntary sector organisations. Reading partners work in schools with below average readers for three sessions a week over 10 weeks. They listen to pupils read and praise effort.

Suzanne Durr, the teacher co-ordinator at Ashfield Valley Primary School in Rochdale says the children's confidence in reading has increased and that is helping them in other areas of the curriculum.

The volunteers' work is accredited to national vocational qualification level.

The scheme has attracted interest from other training and enterprise councils in the North West, North East and East Midlands. Rochdale Training and Enterprise is hoping it will become a model which could be copied across country. * CATEGORY: CONSORTIUM APPROACH - LARGE SCALE

* Winning companies: Midland Bank and KPMG

* Entry: Headteacher and management development programme * The success: Teamwork and co-operation were at the heart of this mentoring project which has the backing of the CBI, Welsh training and enterprise councils, the education business partnership and the Welsh Office. The project is having a positive impact on improving the skills of headteachers, raising standards in schools and increasing business involvement in schools.

The lead from Midland Bank and KPMG has brought involvement from companies as diverse as Hyder, Tesco, Ideal Bakeries and Aberystwyth Business Systems. There are now more than 100 mentoring schemes in Wales. Devised originally for secondary schools, the scheme is being extended to primaries.

* The project: Headteachers are teamed up with business managers for a period of a year. Heads and their mentors attend seminars to explore budgetary management and personnel issues such as team building and Investors in People. Meetings held both at the school and at company offices stress common interests and the need to establish closer links between education and the business community.

David Stokes, head of Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive School, Neath is teamed with Roy Phelps, the Midland Bank area manager. Dr Stokes says: "The school has benefited considerably because I can talk to a sympathetic senior manager who has a fresh viewpoint."

The scheme is being evaluated by Business in the Community, which reports that 90 per cent of schools involved have seen positive results.


* Winning company: BP Grangemouth

* Entry: The link between BP Grangemouth and Grangemouth High School * The success: BP, the biggest employer in Grangemouth, on the Firth of Forth, and Grangemouth High School have developed one of the most imaginative school business link programmes in Scotland. Its main feature is a week-long science festival at the school to which children from feeder primary schools are invited.

BP and the Edinburgh International Science Festival have combined to put on stimulating science events such as a planetarium space show, chemistry demonstrations and a BP technology event to support classroom work on environmental studies.

* The project: Grangemouth High School is one of 34 schools in BP's national link programme. Besides the science festival, it includes a structured work experience programme and an English project - recognised by an Aim High award last year - where students visit and study part of the operations at the BP complex and then make a presentation to parents, teachers and BP staff.

Links with the school are continuing to develop through a one-day management course for pupils, a drama production and Nuffield bursaries to enable two senior pupils to work on a chemistry project in BP's laboratories during the summer break.

BP Grangemouth offers a wide range of careers for school-leavers. Grangemouth High's headteacher, Gerry Docherty, says: "Our link with BP has made an important contribution to the education of all our students and to the professional development of many of the school's staff."


* Joint winning company: Bristol and West Plc

* Entry: Hartcliffe Performance

* The success: Bristol and West has helped Hartcliffe School, Bristol, raise the academic performance of socially disadvantaged pupils through an innovative performing arts project. Sponsorship is helping the school disseminate good practice to other local schools and to play a role in supporting Bristol's National Lottery bid to build an international centre for the performing arts. The school continues to form links with world class organisations such as Welsh National Opera, English National Ballet and the English Shakespeare Company.

* The project: Hartcliffe School lies within one of the largest and most deprived estates in Europe where high unemployment leads to a host of social problems. Over the past six years, music, dance and drama have been vital to raising pupils' self-esteem and examination results.

The school has won successive awards, which have helped to fund cultural events, visits and exchanges. Vic Ecclestone, a special needs teacher, is the project leader and has established links with a similar workshop for disadvantaged children in the Bronx, New York .

Bristol and West is helping the project in many practical ways, such as mentoring children, funding teacher training and helping to extend the project's work to other local schools. The company is also helping the school carry out market research as part of its involvement in Bristol's arts centre Lottery bid and urban regeneration project.

Vic Ecclestone says: "The stars of the project are the children and their families. I'm not saying that strapping on a tu-tu is going to improve your A-level grades, but we are giving children the experience of the performing arts so that they can make informed choices."


* Joint winning company: Marks and Spencer

* Entry: Staying on Target mentoring scheme * The success: Harold Hill Community School, in the middle of a large post-war housing estate in Romford, Essex, has improved its low league table results thanks to volunteer mentors from Marks and Spencer's Romford store. Last year the mentored cohort's success in achieving five or more A to C grade GCSEs was three times higher than the year group overall.

There is also a spin-off for the mentors. Mamp;S says the experience has helped staff to develop their decision-making skills and all have been promoted to supervisory posts.

* The project: Havering Education Business Partnership's mentoring programme, Staying on Target, provides training for the mentors and briefing programmes for pupils and parents as well as materials and activities to support mentoring sessions. Mentors meet pupils about six times during the academic year and their role is to act as a guide - someone who takes a personal interest in a pupil's achievement and progress - rather than as a substitute teacher. The aim of raising pupils' self-esteem and aspirations is part of a long-term strategy.

Both the school and Marks and Spencer are marketing the mentoring scheme to encourage other local businesses to join.

Chris Rudge, headteacher of Harold Hill, says: "From the school's viewpoint the benefits of the scheme are enormous, with pupils' self-esteem and aspirations raised by access to a mentor who acts as a role model. Last summer 100 per cent of mentored students either went on to further education or gained work, a three times higher success rate than across the year group."

* CATEGORY: Teacher and management development

* Winning company: KPMG

* Entry: Headteacher mentoring * The success: Headteachers in the north London borough of Islington are gaining insights into how to deal with difficult management issues thanks to a mentoring programme run by one of the world's leading business consultants, KPMG. As more of the central functions of the local authority - staffing, recruitment, financial planning - are delegated to schools, headteachers have had to take on additional responsibilities.

* The project: Twelve headteachers are involved in the mentoring programme. Each meets a senior manager once a month for about two hours to discuss leadership and management, including strategic development, financial budgeting, human resource management, recruitment and professional development.

Mentoring has been incorporated into the four-day national school leadership development programme managed by the Teacher Training Agency. And the Department for Education and Employment's standards and effectiveness department is funding a national programme, Partners in Leadership, to ensure that 10 per cent of all headteachers have a business mentor.

With 60 headteacher mentors working across London, KPMG gives Islington heads a support network outside the authority.

Christine Cosker, head of Ecclesbourne Primary School in Islington, says:

"Having a mentor helps me to create thinking time and then to have someone to bounce ideas off."

* CATEGORY: Support for the nationalScottish curriculum and keycore skills

* Winning company: Mike Stacey Ltd, Somerset

* Entry: NVQ Construction Partnership Project

* The success: Bricklaying and plastering are now popular curriculum options for Year 10 and 11 pupils at Kingsmead Community School, Wiveliscombe, Somerset, thanks to the support of local building company Mike Stacey and funding from the Counstruction Industry Training Board.

The national vocational qualification level 1 course is part of the board's Curriculum Centres initiative and a popular alternative to GCSEs. Apart from broadening the curriculum, it builds a link to local colleges.

* The project: The NVQ in construction is only part of a picture. It sits alongside a GNVQ level 1 in land and the environment supported by local farmers and growers, reflecting the fact that many of the pupils in the strong farming community will go on to careers in agriculture. Pupils who are taking vocational qualifications typically will also sit four or five GCSEs.

Mike Stacey is close to the school and has built a training compound where 15 pupils spend three hours a week being taught by construction lecturers from the local Somerset College of Arts and Technology. The company also provides construction site visits, work experience and pupil mentoring at the school.

Kingsmead's headteacher, John Wray, is enthusiastic: "Broadening the curriculum is essential in a comprehensive like ours that caters for the complete range of aptitude and ability. Mike Stacey's construction course allows many of our more practical students to play to their strengths."

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