Pensnett headteacher Barry Bainbridge runs the school's Imagine Retail project.
The project grew from a long-standing connection with Chelsfield plc, owners of Merry Hill, who are one of our technology college sponsors.
We'd talked to them about the need for young people to aspire to the opportunities at Merry Hill and the Waterfront (the office development on the site). One of our aims was to open pupils' eyes to the fact that retail opportunities go beyond working on the checkout, getting them to see what's behind the scenes - the management structures, the service functions such as marketing, environmental controls etc.
Last year 390 students were involved from Years 7-9. This year it'll be more focused on Year 9. A three-day programme will include preparation, with role plays delivered by the retailers' training departments. So there'll be a day of preparation in school, a day of training off-site, then a full day of work shadowing at the centre. They may not be in a store but they could be with management, or on the roofs with the engineers.