Enterprise Adviser Network Case Study: Wilmslow High School
Phil Jones, Careers Leader, Wilmslow High School, right, with our Enterprise Coordinator Sam Norfolk
Why did you decide to get involved in the EAN?
At Wilmslow High School, we very much appreciate any chance to improve our careers education programme. The link created between schools and Enterprise Ambassadors mirrors the national guidance, which encourages the establishment of an external business network, using the expertise that this brings to enhance the employability of our young people. What’s not to like?
Why do you think it is important to work with local business to improve involvement in careers education for young people?
Much has been written in the press over the last few years about the work-readiness of secondary school leavers, mostly expressing the growing concern that young people are simply not ready for the workplace and require much additional coaching and training. In my opinion, there are many advantages to using the knowledge of local business colleagues. However, there are two which are particularly advantageous:
1) Providing as many chances as possible to network, improving networking skills and learning about different roles at the same time – this is an area where a disparity has been highlighted between state funded schools (including academies) and fee-paying schools, with the latter providing many more opportunities to meet with external business colleagues. Of course, we want to close this gap.
2) Learning the importance of ‘soft skills’, sometimes referred to as employment skills –in most secondary schools, this is treated as an ‘extra’ responsibility. Therefore, it has significantly fewer explicitly timetabled lessons. However, many employers will gladly deliver the message that although education is important (phew!), the development of soft skills is equally important for future career success. So, those students who make and take opportunities to speak with adults about their careers, and who proactively seek opportunities inside and out of school in order to develop these skills, are those who are most likely to achieve their aspirations. An important message, made even more important by it being delivered by adults who are not employed by a school.
What does being part of the EAN involve?
As a school, we completed a profile of our current careers programme and this information was used to pair us with an Enterprise Ambassador. The Enterprise Ambassadors are external business volunteers, who support their partner school in developing and enhancing their careers programme. This is a really helpful aspect of the network, allowing an external view of how students could be accessing more careers learning. Also, we receive regular updates and opportunities from the Enterprise Coordinator, which keeps us informed of regional events or openings for our students.
What are you most looking forward to in the programme?
Developing the relationship with our Enterprise Ambassador. So far, we have laid good foundations and I look forward to seeing how this can help to further the careers offer at WHS. I feel that the support but critical input from a business (or several) can only help to support our aim in supporting all of our students in achieving their aspirations.