National law firm Shoosmiths is urging other local companies to partner with local schools as it celebrates the Nottingham office's third year of working with Top Valley Academy, with the support of charity Business in the Community (BiTC).
Shoosmiths has offered support to staff and pupils in a range of areas through BiTC's Business Class programme, and has worked with leaders at the academy to develop and deliver bespoke training for the Top Valley senior team.
The firm has also provided work experience to students, and has come in to the school to discuss work aspirations and the legal profession. The firm has also undertaken student mentoring, to help students who are working towards GCSE examinations.
Through this work, Andrew Pickin, Shoosmiths head of office in Nottingham, and Peter Brown, head teacher at Top Valley, have developed a strong working relationship and can see the difference it has made to both Shoosmiths and the students of Top Valley Academy.
Owing to the success of this partnership, the firm was asked to present their work at the Business Class National Symposium, where they shared good practice on a national platform.
Andrew Pickin, head of Shoosmiths' Nottingham office, said: 'It has been a fantastic experience to team up with Top Valley Academy to deliver ideas and activities which benefit both staff and students.
'It's great to know we are helping the community in the surrounding area where we live and work.
'I would certainly urge any local business here in Nottingham to get involved - it can make a real difference to pupils' lives offering them help at a crucial stage in their education, and opening their horizons to different options in the world of work.
Peter Brown, Top Valley Academy Principal said: 'Over the three years of our project we have engaged with Shoosmiths in a wide range of activities. The partnership has always been underpinned by the desire to increase our pupils' understanding of the world of work and show them the skills and attitudes they will need to be successful. Most importantly it has helped us to raise the aspirations of our youngsters.
'Our pupils have benefited hugely from our work with Shoosmiths through, for example, the employability and mentoring programmes. We also took the opportunity, generously provided by Andrew and his team, to tap into Shoosmiths' management training expertise which was of great interest and value to middle and senior leaders at Top Valley Academy.
'There are clear benefits to schools from working in this way with local businesses. The partnership has been successful because both sides have shown commitment to it at a senior level, particularly in agreeing priorities in a manageable and coordinated strategy. We have enjoyed the partnership enormously.'
Business Class is distinguished from other school/business partnerships by its unique cluster mechanism. School and business partners in a particular locality are grouped together into a cluster, enabling them to meet on a termly basis to share best practice, identify common challenges and accelerate improvement. Shoosmiths has played an active role in the Nottingham cluster during the last three years.
Jackie Vanderwalt, head of community impact, Business in the Community, said: 'Business Class is a Business in the Community government-endorsed programme, which provides a systematic framework for business to support young people facing social disadvantage by forming long-term partnerships with the secondary schools those young people attend.
'Shoosmiths are a shining example of a Business Class partner. They show commitment at a senior level, involve staff from across their business and develop engaging and high-impact activity with their partner school.'
There are currently over 300 Business Class partnerships across the UK. Business in the Community aims to build 500 partnerships by 2015, which will positively impact on the lives of over 75,000 young people, and are urging more businesses to engage.