How was the partnership formed?
Building on the partnership developed over the past 5 or 6 years, Webster’s High School worked closely with J&D Wilkie again this session to enhance and expand the partnership. Webster’s High School link contact within J&D Wilkie is now Roger McGill, Financial Director, and Roger has really helped to drive the partnership forward this session.
This partnership was created by the employer and school and is a great example of how business and education can create sustainable and successful partnerships with each other.
The journey with the school
Following meetings with Roger within the school to plan the partnership for this session, Webster’s High School held its Senior Staff Council meeting in the board room at the factory in September 2018. This allowed Principal Teachers to hear from Roger about the work done there and to begin to explore the opportunities for specific curricular links, with meetings subsequently arranged between Roger and the Principal Teachers of Science and Technologies to look at specific links with Chemistry and Business/Admin for next session.
Also this session, Roger worked with colleagues at J&D Wilkie to redesign the programme of S2 visits to incorporate a more hands-on approach for the pupils. This meant that the pupils were far more engaged than in previous years. There was no time for the pupils to lose focus as it was all fast moving and very interesting.
As well as hearing from different speakers, a range of activities were factored in which allowed the pupils to think on their feet as well as to see the diverse range of jobs within the company that many of them didn’t even know existed. For instance, posters showing employees and their roles were hung up and pupils were given a laminate detailing specific parts of the process. Pupils then had to hang the poster beside the correct stage in the development/sale. The different speakers were clearly passionate about their roles and this allowed for discussion.
Roger involved a former pupil who is now an employee of J&D Wilkie Ltd and this really helped build her confidence and professional development as well as allowing the pupils to see the career pathway chosen by a former pupil. Roger and another colleague delivered a presentation to all S3 pupils in March 2019 about their own career journeys as well as the career pathways available at J&D Wilkie Ltd. A visit was subsequently organised for pupils who signed up to find out more.
In addition, Roger worked very closely with Gwen Anderson, Parent Teacher of Pupil Care & Support, to plan a bespoke visit for the S4 On2Feet group. This looked specifically at different roles within the J&D Wilkie companies and different people’s routes and pathways into these with an emphasis on continuing professional development and lifelong learning.
The importance of transferable skills was highlighted and this was made particularly clear as the staff concerned are currently in jobs they did not set out to be in and are using the skills developed in other posts to get them to where they are now. The pupils evaluated this experience and Roger and Gwen have looked at this and discussed the changes to be made for next session.
Other ways in which the partnership has developed this session include Roger having met with the Principle Teacher of Technologies to arrange support for our Go4Set team this session. Roger arranged for another former pupil and employee of the factory to become the Business Mentor for the Go4Set team and she worked with them between October 2018 and March 2019 to create a design for a building that would be ready for the effects of climate change.
Going the extra mile
Roger himself took on the role of Business Mentor for Webster’s High Schools Young Enterprise Team who went on to win a pupil award for Most Inspirational Journey and the Best Teacher award for Mr Graham who supported the group in school.
Roger recently met with Angus Council’s Skills for Work Co-ordinator to discuss work placements that can be offered for pupils across Angus. Working closely with Roger ensures that this partnership continues to grow and develop and has given a large number of the pupils an insight into the world of work, skills for work and the diverse range of career opportunities available within a local business.
Roger spoke about the partnership at the schools recent Business Breakfast to allow other employers to hear examples of the ways in which employers can work with the school. J&D Wilkie Ltd continues to offer work placements for pupils and is hopeful to recruit Modern Apprentices in the future.
One of the pupils in the Young Enterprise team has been offered a paid internship with J&D Wilkie Ltd over the summer prior to going off to study Engineering at university.
Roger is passionate about and committed to DYW as well as the importance of not allowing the partnership to stagnate: rather, looking at ways to expand and enhance it further as Webster’s High School move forward and actively seeking further curricular links.
Webster’s High School are extremely grateful to Roger and the company for the time, commitment, expertise and insight they have given to them and the pupils look forward to building on this through specific curricular links and other developments over coming sessions.