School praises scheme that gives students employability skills
Michelle Symonds (left) and Miranda Cookson at one of the Business Class workshops.

Students at Ysgol Clywedog high school in Wrexham have gained essential employability skills thanks to an initiative that facilitates a working relationship between schools and businesses.

The Business Class scheme, which is run by the charity Business In The Community, in partnership with Welsh Government and Careers Wales, aims to support students to develop the skills, personal attributes and qualifications they need to succeed in work and life.

Miranda Cookson, Deputy Headteacher at Ysgol Clywedog, said: “When we were approached to take part in the initiative by Lesley Lloyd, Business Engagement Advisor with Careers Wales, we jumped at the opportunity.”

Ysgol Clywedog has been involved with the Business Class scheme for four years and its success story is featured in a newly published booklet.

The school partnered with Nest, which is managed on behalf of Welsh Government by British Gas. Michelle Symonds, Community Engagement Manager at Nest, was the school’s contact for the duration of the scheme.

Nest was keen to help improve employment skills within education, as well as raising awareness of careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, and boosting pupil confidence.

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Students from years 9 to 11 took part in workshops covering everything from writing a professional CV, interview techniques, punctuality and attendance to responsible mobile phone usage and the ethos of customer care.

Despite the pandemic, sessions have continued to take place virtually, including work related education seminars.

Mrs Cookson explains: “We know how important it is for students to be ready for the world of work and we are keen to do all we can to help them in preparation for this next stage of their lives.

“The Business Class scheme provided synergy with our own work in school to help year 10 and 11 students develop good habits in readiness for their working lives, from being reliable and punctual, to using mobile phones in a responsible way. For example, Michelle used British Gas’ Mobile Phone Policy to highlight the importance businesses place on ensuring their employees understand the consequences if they misuse their mobile phones whilst at work.

“Following this session we noticed a clear mindset change from the older students in terms of their mobile usage, which was just one of the positive outcomes from the whole programme.

“Michelle also encouraged our prefects to think about their role from a customer service point of view, considering their contribution to the school and how they can support and mentor younger students. This really helped prefects to understand their role more fully and how they have the potential to make a real difference to other students.

“The scheme has been extremely beneficial for our students in helping them to appreciate what is required when they head out into the world of work, and I would like to thank Lesley and Michelle for giving them this vital opportunity.”

Lesley Lloyd, Careers Wales, said: “We are very grateful to Nest for its work supporting schools and providing pupils with valuable interactions that inform, inspire, and motivate young people in relation to their career opportunities.

“We’re looking forward to continue working with Ysgol Clywedog and Nest and strengthening this partnership further through the Careers Wales School Valued Partner initiative, which gives recognition to employers who actively support individual schools.”

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