Did you know it takes a village to raise a child?
Why should we care about other people's children? – I don't have children of my own and get furious when some people without children say ‘why should my taxes pay to educate other people's children'. How short sighted is that! Our future and quite frankly the current state of our society is based upon us all raising wonderful young people who are confident, happy and realise their full potential so that we create a thriving, creative and positive society to live in.
Are we doing this now?
I've been running programmes for students on a voluntary basis for about 10 years now and have met and worked with some wonderful students and teachers. But going from school to school you sense a huge difference in the amount of resources and support available to each school. While many students are leaving school with better qualifications, more confidence and more work related skills than ever before, others are sadly being left behind.
It is easy to despair at the level of knife crime, lack of literacy and lack of hope in some young people or to just turn away from it. But we can do something to help, hence my writing this edition of Inspire.
What difference can we make? – What has astounded me over the years is that it does not take much input to make a big difference to young people. For the last ten years I have been involved in setting up mentoring schemes where business people mentor students either face to face or via email. All the evaluations show that even with just a little bit of contact and time, the impact is huge in terms of:
- increased confidence, grades, attendance and motivation at school and a willingness to stay on in education
It is a very enjoyable and satisfying way of supporting young people and schools.
How can you get involved? – Here are some examples of projects that organisations get involved in within Oxfordshire.
- Reading buddy schemes in primary schools
- Construction Team Challenge – learning all about the construction industry from the people who work in it
- Business Team Challenge – learning about how organisations work, what jobs are involved, how people come to be doing the jobs they do etc.
- Problem solving programme** – solving real life problems within organisations
- Writing a business plan – understanding what it takes to set up a business
- Futures Day/6th Form Conferences to explore where to go next
- Face to face and e mentoring
- Offering support and mentoring to teachers within schools
- Work placements within organisations to assist students in developing work related skills
- Contributing to the management committee's of your local EBP. I am Chair of the Oxfordshire Business Education Alliance and help to decide what projects are going to take place each year, how we can get more organisations involved etc. (hence me writing this edition of Inspire!)
To find out what is happening in your area contact your local school or Education Business Partnership to find out what is going on (www.nebpn.org/aboutus.htm).
**We have an opening for a voluntary person for this project in east Oxfordshire – see right hand column for details.
WIIFM – You might be wondering ‘What's in it for me?' Other than a better society overall, which might seem too intangible to act as a motivator, here are some benefits that employers and organisations have mentioned to me:
- Huge satisfaction in seeing young people in the course of a workshop grow in confidence and skills
- New experiences for staff who get involved, sometimes developing new skills
- Feeling more motivated back at work especially for those who have been doing the same job forever or whose work does not provide a creative outlet
- Keeping in touch with young people, especially for those without children or whose children have left home
- Nurturing new talent to recruit in the future
- Helping to attract in new recruits who are impressed by the level of involvement in and support of the local community by the organisation
What types of organisations get involved – From the 2008 Investors in Education awards that the Oxfordshire Business Education Alliance organised in July, we gave out awards to a wide range of organisations including:
- Fire Service
- Fishing associations
- Fitness centres
- Football clubs
- Garden centres
- Housing Associations
- Police Service
- Town councils
- Training consultancies
So if you want to get involved, now is a great time of year as the schools start to plan their next year of activities. Ring your local primary or secondary school or click here to email the National Education Business Partnership to find out what is going on within your schools.