Power station workers give students added spark
Mentors from the workplace are giving individual support to Welsh Bac students in a unique experiment at a north Wales high school.
Sixth formers at Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi on Anglesey receive monthly sessions from workers at the nearby Wylfa power station.
Martin Wise, the school's head, said the scheme - which began last September - gives increased credibility to the skills-led Bac, which includes a module on careers and work experience.
"It's a means of the school utilising skills from the world of work to raise the aspirations of our young people," he said. "While I'm a great believer in education for education's sake, I'm aware that we have got to address the qualifications our students need to continue their education and training and find themselves employment."
The volunteer mentors work with groups of five students. They receive training from their employers and spend an hour every month working closely with individual students on the "improving own learning and performance" key skill element of the Bac.
They use their knowledge and experience to help students focus on their work, improve their study and revision techniques and set targets that are regularly reviewed.
The scheme has already been praised by the WJEC exam board, which oversees the Welsh Bac.
Mr Wise said he had seen improvements in students' work and attitudes since the scheme began. "It has definitely helped us to deliver the Bac in a more effective fashion," he said.
The scheme could be extended to key stage 4 next year as part of a comprehensive system of exam support that the school is planning for Year 10 pupils. This will include subject-immersion days and intensive-revision days.
Mr Wise said: "It's in the planning stage, but we are looking at a small selected group of pupils we feel would benefit from this mentoring to improve their standards and move up the grade boundaries."
Last November, following on from its successful arrangement with Wylfa, the school set up a larger partnership - called Tim Cybi - with a number of big local employers to develop students' skills and improve their prospects.
Mr Wise said: "Hopefully, by liaising more closely with industry, schools can go some way to narrowing the skills gap that employers talk about.
"I think that with all the developments going on in the world of engineering, quite a few projects are going to be based in north-west Wales. If our students want to stay in the area, I want to make them feel confident they can have those opportunities."
Mr Wise hopes other members of the partnership - which includes Anglesey Aluminium, RAF Valley, BAE Systems, Babcock and Stena Line - will eventually join the mentoring scheme.