The past year has seen a wealth of literacy initiatives implemented in schools across Kent, encouraging business volunteers to act as role models in order to empower students with the skills they will have developed during the course of their working lives. One of the more recent programmes, taking place at the Hartsdown Technology College in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, ‘Words for Work’ saw an overwhelming improvement in student literacy attainment levels and a general increase in confidence in their own abilities. The programme proved successful in changing their attitudes towards speaking and listening skills and their ability to use them effectively. It is imperative that the students enter the workforce as good communicators and effective employees; by bringing them into contact with business ambassadors as early as possible, they will at least have first-hand experience of the benefits such skills can lead to in later life.
Although volunteers are mined from a variety of locals, on occasion companies will commit significant resources to programmes they feel passionately enough about. The Aylesford School were lucky recipients of twelve young solicitors, who gave up their time and initial experiences to become reading mentors to selected students. The encouragement provided will have gone a long way to improving the reading levels of the students involved and their belief that they are not on their own as they journey through education. The initiative not only proved successful in the short term, as it encouraged the school to seek out more ways to engage industry with their students, via the use of large scale Skills Festivals and Interview Days. From the employer’s point of view, mentoring was noted as having a positive impact that enabled them to improve their own professional development and satisfaction in the workplace. It also promoted their brand in the local community as well as building long term links with the local school and community.
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