EBS Ltd Careers Advice in action – Warren Lane gets Apprenticeship

Warren lane and Lisa Gething at Hart recruitment

It’s great when you can have a positive impact on a young person’s life. Warren Lane attended one of my Business and Finance  Apprenticeship Careers Sessions and made contact with Matt Franks from Gordon Franks Training. Following an interview, he has secured an Apprenticeship with Hart Recruitment in Walsall.

Proper partnership working!

Pictured are Warren with Lisa Gething, Branch Manager of Hart Recruitment and Lorenzo Cosco, Managing Director  of Education Business Services Ltd


Literacy tests a ‘Waste of Time’ – Yet another hopeless initiative

clrtestAn official evaluation of the assessment – taken by 600,000 children for the first time last summer – found that most schools believed it told them “nothing new” about pupils’ ability.

The study also revealed that more than half of teachers thought the test was “too difficult” and was largely unsuitable for high-ability pupils or those at the other end of the spectrum with special needs and English as a second language.

It also emerged that most schools were in favour of using a variety of different methods to teach reading – not an exclusive focus on the phonics system favoured by the Government.

The conclusions will be seen as a blow to the Coalition which has ordered state primaries across the country to introduce the new assessment.

As part of the reforms, pupils are supposed to accurately “decode” a list of 40 words using phonics – the back-to-basics method in which words are broken down into constituent parts.

The list includes a number of made-up words such as “voo”, “terg”, “bim”, “thazz” and “spron” to ensure pupils are properly employing the phonics system.

It is intended to mark out pupils struggling the most after a year of compulsory education – allowing teachers to target them with extra help.

The Department for Education insisted it had been used to identify some 235,000 pupils who were not up to the required standard in reading last summer.

But an evaluation of last year’s exam – based on interviews with 940 teachers and 844 literacy consultants – also found widespread apathy towards the tests.

Gove destroying Britain’s Entrepreneurial Spirit


George Osborne has been trumpeting the beginnings of an economic recovery as if he was responsible for it! read the Daily Mail article here.

He talks about Britain’s Entrepreneurs leading the way. Not for long if Michael Gove has his way. His plans for introducing rote learning in schools and to focus on history and classics is trampling on the creativity I see in our young people every day.

I’ve never heard an employer ask that a new employee knows who Winston Churchill was or how to conjugate a latin verb. What’s the point of teaching kids to remember useless facts that they can Google if they need it? What employer needs kids who can remember useless facts and write them down at a certain time under certain conditions?

We need to enthuse kids with learning and make schools a vibrant, creative environment where they can gain confidence, learn through doing and make them a force to reckon with in the workplace of the future.

Michael Gove wants a conveyor belt of people who followed his path.What we don’t need is a tide of young people being trained to become politicians. If that’s what happens then the last person standing please turn out the lights.


Special School pupils show Business Skills

I ran a Business Skills development Challenge at Castle Special School in Walsall today. These young people have academic difficulties but they can certainly raise their game when it comes to showing social and employability skills.

I have worked with these young people for five years on a regular basis and have seen them develop into fine young people. The school is superb and the teachers are so professional and organised that it’s a pleasure to be there.

The kids came up with a range of ideas (including apps, cars and toys of the future) and then wrote and delivered a presentation on their new product…All in half an hour!

My fear for these young people is that they will not get great qualifications, cannot complete a high standard CV and would interview pretty badly (they are not comfortable with new people). They could hold down a job of some description but will they ever get the chance?

It’s a shame that our ‘system’ does not offer the right after-education support and we allow potential to remain unfulfilled.


Spelling and Grammar test SATS

Spelling and grammar test for all 11-year-olds next week to tackle poor literacy

I know loads of adults who would struggle to spell some of the words in this article!

Up to 600,000 schoolchildren will be required to sit a new exam in spelling, punctuation and grammar amid fears that almost a quarter of pupils are starting secondary education with substandard literacy skills. This is from the Telegraph…

For the first time next week, all 11-year-olds in England will be tested on 20 commonly misspelt words such as “separate”, “preferred” and “necessary”, it was revealed.

The exam – part of the annual round of SATs tests – will also cover the correct use of punctuation, including colons and apostrophes, and ensure that pupils apply grammatical rules such as subordinate clauses and a range of connectives.

The move comes amid concerns that the basics were neglected under the last government, with too many pupils struggling to write accurate sentences and structure essays properly.

Some of the worst spelling mistakes from old-style writing exams – based on a piece of prose – have included “tareybul” for terrible, “unyoushil” for unusual, “rtecker” for article and “avelerbilltey” for availability.

England’s main classroom unions have attacked the test, insisting it will heap extra pressure on young children and force teachers to drill pupils to pass.

The National Union of Teachers is investigating the possibility of boycotting the exam altogether next year.

But Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, said too many children “struggle with the basics of the English language at primary school, then don’t catch up at secondary school”.

A sample writing test carried out last year found 23 per cent of 11-year-olds failed to reach the expected standard for their age group – equating to around 125,000 children.

She added: “That is why employers bemoan the poor literacy of so many school and college leavers.

“This new test will mean that children are again taught the skills they need to understand our language, and to use it properly, creatively and effectively.”

Previously under Labour, pupils were given a writing test covering a simple piece of prose, but it was scrapped because of concerns over poor marking.

Next week, pupils will take the new spelling and grammar test alongside a reading and maths exam.

It will be made up of a 45-minute grammar test and a separate 15-minute spelling exam covering 20 words.

Pupils will be expected to recognise the difference between formal and non-standard English, in response to concerns that too many youngsters rely on so-called “text speak”.

The exam will also focus on the grammatical functions of words, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions and conjunctions.

Michael Gove on ‘ Mr Men’ History – He’s not bothered about the future

Gove criticises ‘Mr Men’ history teaching

Michael Gove Michael Gove said he had not been surprised there had been so much debate about the plans for history

The Education Secretary Michael Gove has accused some teachers of promoting an “infantilised” view of history.

In a speech in Brighton, he criticised an online lesson plan that suggested students could create a Mr Men character based on Adolf Hitler.

There is no evidence schools are using this Mr Men approach in the classroom. Its creator calls it a “revision tool”.

Mr Gove also hit back at critics of his new history curriculum to be introduced in England’s schools in September 2014.

The government says it will give children a complete history of Britain, in chronological order.

In his speech to independent school leaders at Brighton College, Mr Gove ridiculed the suggestion – on a website called Active History – that the Mr Men children’s books, written by Roger Hargreaves, could be used as a way of explaining Hitler to pupils.

He said: “One set of history teaching resources… suggests spending classroom time depicting the rise of Hitler as a Mr Men story.

“I may be unfamiliar with all of Roger Hargreaves’s work, but I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Anti-Semitic Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat,” he said.

The Mr Men books are a popular series for younger children, which has characters such as Mr Happy and Little Miss Sunshine.

Russel Tarr, who runs Active History from France, where he works as a teacher said the lesson plan was a revision tool for the end of a six-week course on the rise of Hitler, during which the 15- and 16-year-old pupils would have written a 1,000-word essay on the topic.

“The purpose of the activity is a further challenge to get them to think about it in a different way and to take a complex story about which they have written an in-depth essay and turn it into something that can be used for other students,” he said.

Mr Tarr said teaching should be rigorous and challenging, but it was “academic snobbery” to say you could only study history by taking lots of detailed notes.

Mr Gove also complained about teaching materials for primary school children published by the Historical Association, a group which has criticised his curriculum plans.

‘Eddy the Teddy’

The association has accused him of “misrepresenting” its material.

Mr Gove said teachers were encouraged to teach the early Middle Ages “by studying the depiction of King John as a cowardly lion in Disney’s Robin Hood”.

“If that proves too taxing, then they are asked to organise a fashion parade or make Plasticine models,” he added.

The Historical Association told the BBC the reference to King John was not in its lesson plan but in an article it had published, in which the point was to show pupils that film depictions of historical figures “may not be a true representation of the past”.

A spokeswoman said: “It seems unfair that he has used an unfair representation of us and of history teaching generally for political purposes”.

The education secretary listed other suggestions for primary teachers, produced by other groups, including using characters such as Nemo, a fish from the Disney film of the same name or “Eddy the Teddy”.

He went on to tell conference delegates “this infantilisation” continued to GCSE level.

Historians divided

He told conference delegates he had not been surprised by the intensity of the debate about changes to the history curriculum.

Some historians, including David Starkey and Niall Ferguson have welcomed the plans, but others, including the Historical Association, have criticised them.

The government says children will learn a complete history of Britain, with a clear “narrative of British progress” and an emphasis on heroes and heroines.

The youngest children, as is currently the case, will be taught about key historical figures, and from the age of seven, pupils will be expected to learn a detailed chronological history of Britain, from the Stone Age through to the end of the Cold War.

In February, the Historical Association welcomed the review of the history curriculum but described the plans put forward as “unworkable”.

It said its main concern was for primary schools, where teachers without specialist history knowledge would be “expected to teach complex areas of history such as religion, war, identity and nation building without any training or resources and possibly little historical knowledge of their own”.

A consultation on the proposed new national curriculum has just closed, and Mr Gove said he would weigh carefully all submissions about how plans can be improved.

He added: “The draft history curriculum is a direct attempt to address the failure – over generations – to ensure children grow up knowing the story of our islands.”

In his speech, Mr Gove also appeared to criticise the work of Stephenie Meyer, author of the popular Twilight series of books.

“Stephenie Meyer cannot hold a flaming-pitch torch to George Eliot,” he said.

“There is a great tradition of English literature – a canon of transcendent works – and Breaking Dawn [the fourth and final novel in the the Twilight series] is not part of it.”

The education secretary complained too few GCSE English students studied novels or plays from before the 20th Century.

School view of Education Business Services Ltd delivery….

From Blessed Robert Johnson College website

Year 8 Social Enterprise Event

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On Wednesday 1st May Year 8 were taken off-timetable to participate in a ‘Social Enterprise Event’ run by Lorenzo Cosco, from Education Business Services Ltd. Culminating in a Dragon’s Den style finale, students were asked to work in teams to create ideas that could be used to make a difference as well as generating money that could be used for Social Enterprise. The students came to school dressed in smart outfits, to help them to empathise more fully with the real world of work.

The judges included Peter Forrest, the Managing Director of Panoptic Systems Integrated Ltd in Newport, as well as representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions: Sophie Tipper, Carol Hartshorne, Christine Woolley and Anthony Hyde.

Also there to explain more about Social Enterprise and to highlight a competition for budding young social entrepreneurs were Eva Fryc and her colleague Julie from UnLtd, which supports and funds projects across the nation.

Chris Gosling from TCAT also came along to support the employability skills discussed and to raise awareness for students of the career choices they will be making in the near future regarding their options and post-16 courses.

The day was very productive and we are very proud of the effort that many students went to in their presentations and outfits. We’d like to express our thanks to Lorenzo Cosco and all of our visitors and hope that we can continue to keep in touch and build upon such a positive experience in the future.

Here are some comments from the students themselves:

“I learned life is hard. To get your dream you need to start when you are young and get good grades.”

 “I’ve learned that life isn’t as easy as it sounds. It was enjoyable to work alongside peers to swap ideas. Jobs don’t just come to you, you need to work hard.”

 “Today I have learned to co-operate with people I don’t always work with.”

 “I’ve learned today that team work and communication is vital.”

 “I enjoyed using creativity to make a design. I learned that you can work with anyone if you listen.”

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Cranfield Business School report on Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships vital to build the workforce of the future

3rd May 2013


Apprenticeships are essential to help build a sustainable workforce and get more people into employment, according to a new report by Cranfield School of Management and learndirect. ‘Nurturing Talent: building the workforce of the future’ outlines how more needs to be done to promote the value of vocational education and the vital role employers should play in this. The report makes a number of recommendations, including: reviewing the school curriculum to include work related learning; ensuring schools provide high quality and impartial information, advice and guidance on careers and further education; taking steps to improve the status of vocational education and training and maximising the use of technology by extending its use beyond teaching and learning.

Despite concerns over skills shortages in the UK, more than two-thirds of UK firms (70%) surveyed for the report have not taken any steps to address potential skills shortages in the labour market forecast in 10-20 years’ time. Apprenticeships can play a huge part in helping to tackle the issue, but only seven per cent of business leaders from companies employing apprentices found it easy to find suitable young people for the roles.  Despite these challenges, the research, commissioned by learndirect, discovered more than a fifth of firms (21%) employ apprentices, of which 32% said the training schemes were an effective way of addressing shortages of technical skills.

Dr Emma Parry, Reader in Human Resource Management at Cranfield School of Management and the report’s author explained the benefits of apprenticeships to companies:  “Apprenticeships are not just about helping employers to access the skills they need to be successful, although they can certainly do this. The evidence suggests the use of apprenticeships can also lead to improved employee morale, commitment and retention, lower recruitment costs and can also allow an organisation to develop a reputation as a good employer.”

The report also highlights young people’s lack of basic skills. Almost a third (30%) of the business leaders surveyed said English literacy and language skills among non-graduates aged under 25 was poor, whilst more than a fifth (21%) said their maths abilities were insufficient for employment. The inability of young people to communicate effectively was also cited by a quarter (25%) of business decision makers, whilst 28% said that the general attitude of young people was an issue.

In order to support the government in its drive to reduce youth unemployment, more than half of the business leaders surveyed (54%) said they needed further support to improve the basic English and maths skills of young people.

The difficulties businesses face in finding appropriately skilled young people could be part of the reason why  11,500 fewer apprenticeship were started between August last year and the beginning of 2013, compared to the same period a year before.

Deborah Rosado, Director of Proposals and Stakeholder Management at learndirect, who launched the report to the HR Development Conference today, said of the findings:  “Like the government, employers recognise when done well, apprenticeships can equip firms with the skills they desperately need. However, if apprenticeships are to help businesses meet the changing needs of the UK economy, which was an important element of the Richard Review, young people should have the basic skills needed for work.”

Despite the difficulties the research highlights, there is overwhelming support for apprenticeships amongst business leaders, 75% of whom agreed with the government’s focus on the schemes.

More than a third of apprentice-employers (34%) agree they could plan to promote their trainees through their organisation, indicating they believe the training schemes are crucial for their talent pipeline, and 32% believe apprenticeships help with employee retention.

Indeed, the survey shows it is not only traditional industries, such as construction, taking advantage of the traineeships but increasingly white collar professions such as the financial sector (23% of which run apprenticeship schemes).


The report comes with four recommendations from Cranfield School of Management and learndirect for businesses and policy makers to help make young people more attractive for employment:

  1. The school curriculum should be reviewed to include work related learning, which will ensure young people are work-ready, leaving the school system with the basic employability skills, behaviours and attitudes needed to thrive in work, including Maths, English and ICT.
  2. There should be a new duty for schools to provide high quality information, advice and guidance on careers and further education that is impartial and includes the full range of options, including apprenticeships and traineeships.
  3. Steps need to be taken to improve the status of Vocational Education and Training (VET), which should include a government-led campaign to promote the value of VET to parents, teachers, children and employers. All of this will require a period of stability in the vocational education sector achieved through cross-party consensus.
  4. Technology should be maximised by extending its use beyond teaching and learning. For example, providing peer-to-peer IT support and mentoring where learners are dispersed. The Ministerial Action Group, set up to look at learning technologies in the further education and skills sector, should identify best practice in the use of technology across industry and make recommendations on how this could be replicated in employment and skills