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A partnership that works both ways


Jane Austin, Head of HR and Communications at water retail company Wave, became involved in the North East LEP’s Enterprise Adviser programme after Wave’s CEO heard about the programme at a conference.

Jane was matched with a school just a couple of miles from where she lives and is now working in partnership with Fiona Brennan, (pictured left), Work-Related Learning Co-ordinator at Marden High School in North Tyneside.

Together, Jane (pictured below) and Fiona aim to strengthen careers guidance at the school, ensuring that the school achieves the eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks which have been successfully piloted here in the North East and now form a central part of the Government’s new careers strategy.

“We had already completed an internal audit to see how the school was performing against the eight benchmarks, and this helped us to identify our priorities for the academic year, and for our work with Jane,” explained Fiona. “For example, we found that our careers provision varied across year groups and that we needed to provide more opportunities for our younger pupils.”

 “Working together with Jane has been a really positive experience and I feel that we’re making good progress towards achieving the benchmarks. The most useful thing has been having the support of someone who is looking at our situation from a different perspective.

 “We want to make sure that students come away from our career events feeling inspired and wanting to know more. We need to spark their interest and give them experiences which they can relate to.

 “We now have a number of careers-focused events planned for different year groups in the New Year and more in the pipeline – these include a half day event where pupils will run their own business, learning how to make business decisions in areas such as pricing, HR and production. We’re also challenging stereotypes, with younger pupils meeting people who work in all sorts of different careers, from firefighters to marketers.

“I’m really, really happy with our partnership and Jane’s experience and passion means we work very well together.

 Jane Austin added: “Working together, we’ve made huge progress in a short time. We’ve moved towards filling the gaps in provision which the school had already identified and we’re in a position now where we have a plan for the careers offering for every year group and we can evidence the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks in a more robust way across all ages.

 “While I’m working with the school on a strategic level, I’ll still be supporting them at events which is great as I have the pleasure of watching the students grow and, every time, I come away astounded by them.

 “There’s something amazing about a partnership between business and education. The school gains from it but so does the business.

 “I’ll be calling on my colleagues in finance, sales and our CEO, who will all be volunteering at events and sharing their knowledge with pupils. Our employees get a lot out of being involved and opportunities to volunteer are really valued by people at all levels – the partnership really does work both ways and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

 Find out more about the North East LEP Enterprise Adviser programme.