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Chance to take part in school’s mentoring scheme

Business people and employers are being urged to volunteer to take part in a hugely successful mentoring scheme aimed at helping high school students gain the confidence and employability skills they will need in later life.

North Walsham High School will launch the sixth year of its mentoring scheme in February. Mentors take on between five and 10 Year 9 student mentees, and meet regularly with them over a two-and-a-half year period, to offer support and advice on qualifications, skills needed to progress towards their ambitions, and to help motivate and inspire them.

Students who have taken part in the scheme have spoken about how the experience helped build their confidence and self-esteem, as well as guiding them in their choices for the future.  Mentors have also reported that taking part has been a rewarding experience, helping their own personal development, as well as ensuring that tomorrow’s workforce has the skills needed to be useful employees.

“Our mentoring programme is designed to provide role models for our students,” said Kate Lawn, who is co-ordinating the initiative. “We want them to be inspired, motivated, confident, and full of self-belief. We need to develop their ‘soft skills’ to improve their long-term employment prospects. Employers have highlighted that employability skills are lacking in young people, so our aim is to build on these to enable them to progress in the world of work.”

Employers and business people who are interested in taking part are being invited to a business breakfast at the school to find out more.  The event takes place on January 22, 7am-8.30am.  Those interested in attending can reserve a place by contacting Kate Monday to Wednesday on 01692 402581 or by email on lawnk@nwhs.uk. The 2019 scheme will be launched at a “speed networking” event at the school on February 13.  Mentors receive training, and are required to complete a DBS check.

One current mentor at NWHS is Gail Adams, owner of Holiday let company, Pack Holidays.  She says that being a mentor gives her a lot of inspiration for the future: “It is well worth your time spending a little while with young, developing and curious minds.  The students I mentor are a fabulous set of young adults who are mature, kind, intelligent and engaging.”

Aylsham students boost their business experience

Story and pictures by Ella Hawes and Caitlin Stursberg

Aylsham High School played host the future Alan Sugars of the world as they took on a series of challenges with one aim, to win over as many investors as possible.

The business BOOST (Building On Our Skills Together) day on July 12 saw each team being given a different trademark brand and an unexpected target audience. There was Lush for men, Primark for the rich and PlayStation for girls.

The event was organised by AHS Young Chamber and involved a collection of business enthusiasts, all students at Aylsham High School. The day is held annually for Year 7 students who have shown excellent participation and interest in business and enterprise, to work together and engage in a marketing task supported by older students, with people from local businesses acting as mentors.

Each team had to create a campaign using different media platforms to attract their target audience, and then pitch their ideas to the investors. There was a 15-minute window to address their pitches to the investors, all businessmen/women from the local community.

Chaos reigned as all the teams tried to get the investors’ attention. Standing in the middle of it all, the students came up with a variety of ideas to attract the investors and their target audiences; there were teams who made branded T-shirts, there were loads of people holding up posters for their campaign and one team created their own app.

They were all desperately trying to get the investors to listen to their pitch and give them the coveted investors’ cards they need to win. At the end of the day the team with the most investment cards would win. The winners were the Baby Dragons with their budget range of Nike sportswear.

One investor, Sabina Rospedzihowska, said it was great to be able “to mentor the kids and watch their ideas grow”. And the students certainly had lots of ideas and things to say when we went round to speak to them.

On the PlayStation team Sophie Baker said how she was “experiencing what it’s like to work with others”. They had to pitch PlayStation to girls and had come up with an idea called PlayStation Light that involved apps on phones, educational gains, parental conscriptions and many other things. This team had also designed two posters to go with their campaign.

The Primark team were pitching for the top end of the market and had made T-shirts, bags, purses and accessories all made out of top-quality material. Naomi Ives said: “This will be good for our future.”

But Emma Lucy Auber, head of business studies at the school said the day was also about having fun and “bringing business to life”.

The students had to tackle problems which occurred within their campaigns, and how solving one problems often led to another making it hard to pitch the perfect campaign.

The team of older students, though, were on hand to encourage the younger students and help them to develop their ideas.

Employers encouraged to shape next generation in North Norfolk

Employers will be given the opportunity to help youngsters increase their understanding of the world of work via a series of events organised by North Norfolk District Council.

Held in partnership with the New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network, they will crteate an opportunity for employers to meet staff from the district’s schools and colleges.

The events – which are free – will explain to businesses how to become an Enterprise Adviser, promote and highlight the benefits for businesses that work with young people, and build on the skills and enthusiasm of North Norfolk’s young people.

Businesses that want to find out how to prepare and shape the next generation of employees and entrepreneurs can book a place and then head along to The Atrium in North Walsham tomorrow (April 25), Cromer Academy on Wednesday (April 26) or Fakenham Academy on Thursday (April 27). All three events are at 4.30pm-6pm, and refreshments will be provided.

There will be the opportunity to network with businesses that are already working with schools in North Norfolk, and learn about the activities that businesses can deliver. These range from work experience and workplace visits – which will suit larger businesses – to mock interviews, mentoring and talks, which any business can offer, including small businesses and the self-employed.

Enterprise Advisers are volunteers who use their strategic knowledge and experience to help senior staff in schools draw up a careers delivery plan for students aged 11-18.

To find out more or to book a place, please contact the Economic Growth Team at economic.growth@north-norfolk.gov.uk or on 01263 5166009.