Five years ago, MFL Teacher and business leader Tess Wilkinson set up the Premium Partners scheme at The Castle School in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire (1,656 pupils). Her remit was to generate income and address the need to improve the ways in which students acquire employability skills, by bringing business and education together. The result was a membership scheme that now has over 70 businesses paying an annual fee of up to £1,000 each – and two dedicated staff! Seven schools within the Castle School Education Trust now benefit from the scheme.
'We've raised £32,000 in the last year, but it's more about making learning relevant to the real world by creating stimulating work experience and networking opportunities.’ says Tess. 'We aim for a mix of projects – some target a large number of students (e.g. interview sessions), while others have a big impact on a select few. The key to success is building long-term relationships with our business partners.
The projects I am most proud of are: Berkeley Vale Motors car wrap, where A-level design students worked to a tight deadline with the dealership, a graphic designer, and a vinyl wrap company to create visuals to cover a Hyundai; Charfield Chatter saw Year 5 and 6 pupils from Charfield Primary School write, design, sell advertising, and edit their own newspaper to be inserted in The Gazette newspaper; the Essilor telescope project (pictured) gave a group of Year 9 boys the chance to work with lense manufacturer Essilor to design and build a telescope – raising attainment in maths and science along the way! Our vision that “it's all about the students” is one that our partners share!'