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Sponsorship success


contractors and providers, and the STEM coordinator will have worked with some local companies, as will the careers coordinator. Before you know it, you’ll have 30-50 names on your list. If you have a core number of


contacts interested in becoming partners, invite them to form a steering committee for the new partnership programme. Brainstorm ideas, dates, formats, events and come up with a plan for a rst partnership meeting. Then email every contact on your list with details and see who comes along.


Interact regularly The most straightforward way to keep in touch is to run networking events every couple of months. These could be breakfast meetings held at the school, so students can also get involved. Theme the events, relating to topics of interest to partners and students, such as apprenticeships, employability skills or a spotlight on a particular profession. One school runs what they call business forums – a networking event, later in the day and often at a venue run by one of the partners, such as a hotel. There are many other ways to


engage partners with the school: Assign partners from specic industries to related subject-areas, and ask the Heads of Department to invite them to work with students Set up a business mentoring programme that encourages partners to support individual students with their learning targets Invite partners onto the school’s governing board, or to fundraising events, careers fayres, school productions or awards evenings.


Build a team There’s a lot of work involved, which can’t be carried out in isolation, particularly if the main coordinator has another role. The other people who should be involved are: Careers Coordinator: This person is likely to be the biggest beneciary of a business partnership programme, as the partners can give industry-related presentations, run workshops, attend careers fayres, provide


46 SPRING 2016 FundEd


mock interviews and act as mentors. This person should help you think of pertinent ways that partners can get involved in the provision of careers guidance. Work Experience Coordinator: The more partners the school has, the more opportunities there are for targeted work experience. This person should be helping you to get more partners on board who are willing to offer placements. STEM Coordinator: This person will both benet and support you in similar ways to the roles above. Additionally, there are benets to be gained from live research projects provided by many STEM- orientated rms, many of which have great STEM outreach programmes. Inviting these businesses to be one of your partners can often ensure extra benets for your school before they are offered to others. Head of Curriculum: Business partners are always interested to know how the skills they require in their sector are being taught. They also like to be informed of updates in education that may impact them further down the line – take the changes in grading GCSEs, for example, that will soon appear on the CVs that employers will receive. The Head of Curriculum is key to any discussions on skills gaps and how the school is working to close them. Head of Sixth Form: If your school has a post-16 provision, your students will be even closer to entering the world of work. Now


that work-experience must be part of post-16 study programmes, it makes sense for someone from the Sixth Form team to be involved. Head of Business Studies: There should be a natural inclination for someone from the business studies department to get involved in building relationships with local companies. If anything, this person should be an extra pair of hands at events, an extra brain at meetings, or out there networking and inviting new partners to get involved. A member of the leadership team: A keen advocate from senior management can make all the difference to the success of a partnership scheme. Often a senior leader will be able to facilitate links at higher levels, or make quick decisions for those things that need to happen for the partnership to run smoothly. Having the leadership team behind the programme gives a unied message to partners, parents and pupils that business engagement is important to the school. The Business Manager and/or Head of Finance: Simply put, they hold the purse strings and whether it’s asking for money to cater for a breakfast meeting, putting an advert in the local paper, or for writing a bid for future funding, it’s good to have them on board. A member of the school administration ofce: There is a lot of administrative work keeping in touch with partners and organising the numerous spin-off projects. Some allocated admin support is crucial so that you can keep the many plates spinning while you get on with your day job!


Sam Baker is Head of Business Studies and Work-Related Learning at Mark Rutherford School in Bedford (1,236 pupils). He has established an award-winning education-business partnership programme with over 150 local and national organisations engaged in various ways in the life of the school and its students.


Coming up next issue… How to establish and run regular (and effective) networking events for your business partners.


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