Magazine article Public Finance

Unlocking the Potential - the Award for Enterprise

Magazine article Public Finance

Unlocking the Potential - the Award for Enterprise

Article excerpt

Sponsored by: Partnerships UK

FIREworks is an innovative project, set up by the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service's community safety academy and 15 local high schools, to help pupils who are struggling at school, for whatever reason. It gives places to 90 pupils a year on a ten-week day release course that teaches them a variety of practical firefighting skills.

The young people who join the academy come with a range of problems, including low self-esteem, bullying, drug abuse, involvement in crime and, for some, the risk of exclusion from school.

They are taught fire and rescue skills including hose running, ladder climbing and use of hydraulic cutting equipment.

Students are encouraged to enjoy themselves, but instruction is given within a disciplined environment.

The results are striking: attendance at school by students who have attended the course has improved on average from 86% to 92.5% of classes. Their behaviour has also improved and, of those with a history of offending, none have done so again.

Jackie Bowls, a members' relations officer for the Colchester and East Essex Co-operative Society, has helped local schools to set up schemes to teach students enterprise skills.

Six years ago, she set up a business-mentoring programme with St Benedict's College; now 40 local business people are involved, helping students to improve their confidence and social skills. The programme is invaluable in helping students to understand what employers will seek from them when they leave school. …

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