NEST Cymru, British Gas and Ysgol Clywedog…not really names that you would expect to hear together.

However, they have all joined together as part of the Business Class programme, working to give young people the best life chances.

The programme gives schools the chance to work with businesses to make sure that the curriculum they deliver and the way they are run gives pupils the chance to understand and experience the world of business and give them skills that will impact their future.

To do this they use ‘The Four Pillars’ – four different areas that mean the pupils and staff can get the most out of it.

Leadership and governance – this is the pillar that gives the school the chance to make the most of business planning and develop new skills. Business leaders can sit on the school’s board of governors and share training sessions and management tools.

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The curriculum – this pillar looks at raising achievement with support across many subjects including numeracy, literacy, IT, STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and the Welsh Baccalaureate. For example, if the aim was to increase the number of girls taking up STEM subjects for GCSE and beyond, they could be given projects the show them how these subjects would be relevant to real life outside school.

Enterprise and employability – this step offers support to pupils so that they are ready for the workplace. Problems to address may include lack of aspiration or gaps in key skills like problem solving, communication or leadership. This programme will look at providing things like work placements, mentoring particular pupil groups, acting as role models and running workshops and challenges to improve employability skills.

Wider issues – Finally, the business and school will work together on any other issues that are relevant to the school. This could be attendance, parental engagement or smoking culture. Support may come in the form of attending parents’ evenings or primary school transition days, or providing workshops on health and wellbeing.

Overall, this programme works with the school to meet the pupils’ specific needs and improve their understanding of the world of work and their awareness of career choices, and improve their employability skills.

Head teacher, Matthew Vickery, said ‘We are really glad to be part of this project and to have teamed up with NEST Cymru and British Gas. We are already planning the first events for this year and look forward to the partnership and the opportunity it brings.’

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