Manufacturers go back to school: Little steps

Posted on 4 Apr 2013

The first wins have been made in TM’s campaign to appoint one manufacturing leader to the governing board of a secondary school in every country in England and Wales.

Laura Bawden, Financial Controller at TMAT
Laura Bawden, Financial Controller at TMAT

Since the last issue of Andrew Churchill, MD of JJ Churchill, was appointed to the governing board of The Dixie Grammar School in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire. Will Bridgman, MD of Warren Services in Norfolk has entered into talks with the local Thetford Academy to gain a position on its governing board and Laura Bawden, finance director at acoustic equipment manufacturer, TMAT, is in the process of becoming a co-opted governor at Chaucer School in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

But appointing Ms Bawden to its board is just a small part of the business outreach Chaucer School is embarking on.

Recognising the need for far more explicit links between education and business in order to prepare students for the world of employment, Chaucer School is establishing a Business Board. Initially, this board will include senior employees from five local businesses representing sectors from manufacturing through financial services and communications. A wider community of business engagement is expected to emerge around the core board membership.

School seeking governor!

Ernst Bevin School, based in Tooting, South London, is seeking a pro-active manufacturing leader to join its board of governors.

The school sends several students to study engineering at university every year, but it is keen to augment teaching of STEM skills to improve student understanding of the careers available in manufacturing and engineering firms. Ernst Bevin is also keen to understand more about industry apprenticeship opportunities in order to offer more rounded careers advice to students of all abilities and hopes to gain more knowledge of these routes through its prospective industry governor.

You do not have to live or run you business in a school’s catchment area in order to take up a position on the governing board, though it is essential that you are able to attend a termly governors’ board meeting as a minimum commitment to the post.

If you are interested in applying to become a governor for Ernst Bevin School please contact Jane Gray ([email protected]) 0207 202 4890.

Board members will help teachers develop lesson plans based on real business challenges, give tips on business measurement approaches to help the school understand how well it is doing in achieving targets and provide inspiration by leading school assemblies or other engagement events.

A key outcome from the first board meeting for drama teacher Naomi Evans-Mudie, was to learn how TMAT is changing the way it measures staff time and attendance to help employees understand the value of lost hours and the impact that absenteeism has on peers more clearly. Ms Evans-Mudie felt that the approach might also allow Chaucer to improve its performance and more effectively teach students the importance of punctuality and reliability in the workplace.

Chaucer School’s head teacher, Scott Burnside emphasized at the first board meeting that “this is not about asking businesses for money. This is not about asking businesses to provide work experience. This is about meeting regularly with business and asking if they can help and coach us. This is about linking up so that our institutionalised perspective can be broadened and enhanced.”

The establishment of the Business Board at Chaucer is in its very early stages, but the first participants are enthusiastic about its potential. Encouragingly for professionals with pressing work commitments, all representatives urged Chaucer School to schedule more frequent meetings than had first been suggested. Richard Dukes, premier business manager for HSBC and ex-pupil of the school suggested upping the meeting schedule from termly to monthly – at least during the board’s inception. “I am certain we can all drag an hour out of a day a month to make sure that the good ideas this board will have get moved forward,” said Mr Dukes. His peers all agreed.

Moving forward, Chaucer School hopes its approach to engagement with business will provide a template for schools nationwide.