Shirebrook Academy’s careers commitment is rewarded with business award win

L-R: John O’Callaghan, leader of Derbyshire Education Business Partnership (DEBP), which sponsored and judged the Education and Business Partnership Award; Mark Cottingham, principal of Shirebrook Academy; Helen Wakefield, the Academy’s Assistant Principal and Tracy Horton, Personal Development Co-ordinator at Shirebrook Academy

A Shirebrook school was praised for working alongside local companies to help prepare its students for the world of employment when it won a prestigious local business prize.

Shirebrook Academy, in Common Lane, beat off stiff competition to win the Education and Business Partnership category at the East Midlands Chamber’s Derbyshire Business awards, which were held in Derby on Friday 7th September.

Taking place at Derby County Football Club’s Pride Park stadium, the awards recognised the achievements of some of the best-known names in the county’s business community.

Shirebrook Academy was up against four other organisations, including Derby College and Chesterfield College, in its category, which recognises educational institutions which forge close links with businesses as part of their careers development work.

The Academy has a growing programme of activities involving a range of local companies including a comprehensive work experience scheme, mock interview events and visits to and from businesses across Derbyshire and into South Yorkshire.

Its students have also worked with representatives from a host of names including Rolls-Royce, Boeing and McLaren through its partnership with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield, who have helped them to understand what skills and qualities they need to make a good start in the world of work.

However, Mark Cottingham, principal of Shirebrook Academy, said that taking part in the work has also given the school a rare opportunity to help businesses understand how to get the best out of young people by understanding their abilities, concerns and attitudes.

He said: “Winning any award is a wonderful accolade but receiving this recognition from the Chamber is especially welcome because it highlights how we’re helping both students and businesses to understand each other to everyone’s mutual benefit.

“It also demonstrates our commitment to showing students the possibilities that exist on our doorstep at a time when many other schools are reining in their employability activity because of funding cuts and pressures to deliver the Government’s curriculum.

“It is a challenging time to run business partnership programmes, yet we are increasing our activity because we believe that schools have a part to play in young people’s development beyond simply getting them ready for exams.”