27 Cork Schools Take Part In ‘Business In The Community’ Educational Programmes
The Schools’ Business Partnership (SBP) is a national initiative and flagship social inclusion suite of programmes that was established in 2001 and develops mutually beneficial links between schools and businesses at local level and to support the Government’s overall strategy on educational inclusion. The SBP flagship initiative has a suite of eight programmes in total whereby DEIS schools that are targeted through the School Completion Programme are matched with a local company. It is the only business-education programme in Ireland that receives matching Government funds under the National Development Plan and supports students, principals, and teachers in post-primary, and literacy & numeracy in primary schools. To date over 448 partnerships have been established nationally, impacting over 43,000 students nationwide.
The BITCI annual Student Mentoring Celebration took place on the 30th March to congratulate students and acknowledge companies who have participated in this programme. Nationally, a total of 25 mentoring school-company partnerships are underway which involve 1:1 mentoring sessions for fifth and sixth year students providing tailored individual career-focussed support across 1 or 2 years. Mentoring is an impactful programme that gives students a chance to connect and communicate on an adult level with professionals in the working world, helping to improve confidence, communication, and social skills as well as receiving guidance on CV, interview technique and career-focussed topics. At last year’s Celebration event, Minister Foley called the programme a “terrific initiative” and went on to say “the link between business and schools can only be for the benefit of our students. This is a superb programme. I am extremely impressed with it.”
BITCI Student Mentoring is one of a suite of post-primary programmes including the World of Work programme which targets 2nd year students in School Completion Programme schools and partners them with a local business, helping to inspire them to reach their full potential by staying in school and recognising the value of completing their education. Students are given workplace, soft skills and sustainability insights and the impact of partnering schools is that by highlighting the link between education and work, students are much more likely to complete their education to Leaving Certificate and beyond. Over 3,500 students are participating in World of Work this year.
Other post-primary programmes delivered by BITCI are Time to GROW (Get Ready for Opportunities to Work) which is a pilot work experience initiative providing 100 work placements per year to 4th and 5th year students in Dublin DEIS schools. Sponsored by basis.point, the benefits of this workplace initiative post-Covid is immeasurable in terms of levelling the playing field to provide opportunity of access to professional experience and networks and encourage young people to reach their fullest potential and in turn break the cycle of intergenerational hardship. The Summer Work Placement Programme 2023 provides a summer internship (work placement) for 6-8 weeks in funds industry companies to secondary school leavers from the North-East Inner City (NEIC) schools as part of the long-term plans for social and economic regeneration of the area. This programme offers companies the opportunity to make an active contribution towards greater inclusion and opportunity for local young people through meaningful work experience giving a real insight into that company, sector and range of careers. A goal of this initiative is to raise the aspirations of those who participate and to provide students with access to career paths outside their existing network.
BITCI Time to Read is a national primary school literacy programme and Time to Count its numeracy counterpart. The programmes see vetted trained company volunteers engage in in-school sessions with a local partnering DEIS school. Time to Read involves paired reading while Time to Count are small groups playing maths-based board games. Both programmes seek to build fluency and comprehension as well as building confidence and demonstrating the enjoyment involved. By getting involved companies and their volunteers can avail of well-organised employee engagement in their community while also impacting positively on educational inclusion by improving literacy/numeracy levels in school. Almost 3,000 children have participated in Time to Read and a further 1,000 in Time to Count. The programmes are funded by partnering businesses and receive supporting funding from the Community Foundation for Ireland and ESB.
Finally, Industry Insights for Teachers (IIT) and Management Excellence for Principals (MEP) are two programmes whereby industry experts and leaders share their expertise and provide industry insights to educators. IIT has seen over 220 sessions delivered on careers in sectors such as STEM, IT, cyber security, languages and more recently has focussed on green energy, agri-business, energy and cloud computing. Funded by the Department of Education & Skills Teacher Education Section, industry experts give their time and knowledge. and the business contribution is expertise and time. As part of BITCI’s wider strategy on education, the programme facilitates skills sharing between business and school leaders. MEP is funded by Cornmarket insurance and has provided over 5,500 hours of training to school Principals and Deputies in a number of areas including leadership, managing people, communications, PR and branding, conflict resolution and team building.