Students from Wheelers Lane Primary and Tenterfield Primary schools joined together at Unity Trust Bank today, as part of their Enabling Enterprise education programme. They would be taking on a challenge day which would develop their problem solving skills and build aspirations.

Communities matter

The bank supports their customers – civil society, social enterprises, community interest companies, councils and trade unions, with a ‘fresh approach to banking, supporting them with socially-responsible banking services’. These values were introduced to the students, at the start of their challenge day and ran as a strong theme throughout the day, with many of the students referring back to these values as they worked hard to develop their ideas for an exciting employee awards party. This was an ideal opportunity to combine business and enterprise education, shifting attitudes by providing opportunities to learn about how to create social impact.

Influencing Young aspirations

It is well known that young people’s aspirations influence their educational attainment and later life choices and outcomes, so opportunities to ask professionals from the business about their roles and work enjoyment along with a tour around the offices at Unity Trust Bank in Brindley Place at the start of their day, enabled students to see people at work and experience the banking environment.

Declan from Wheelers Lane was keen to talk to employees in the IT team, and enjoyed listening to two of the team explaining how they had aspirations to work with IT since their school days. Some students commented on a photo of an employee’s baby displayed at their workstation and were surprised that employees were able to display personal photographs and bring their home-life into the workplace.

Other students enjoyed listening in to the customer service team as they greeted and supported customers via their telephone headsets. Some students asked questions about their Employee Rewards challenge to Lindsay Winters, HR and Training Officer (the ideal employee to ask questions around what the employees would enjoy being rewarded for and the type of rewards that Unity Trust might like to offer for their employees).

Lisa, from Unity Trust Bank particularly enjoyed taking the children on tour – and would have liked even longer for this, so that they could ask more questions and speak to other members of staff. There was particular interest from the students when they were introduced to the checks made by Unity Trust Bank when processing customer cheques to ensure that they had been accurately completed and checked under ultra violet lighting for fraudulence.

The ‘thermometer’ display was of great interest to the students, it showed how many days Unity Trust Bank employees had dedicated to their volunteering programme this year. Students were amazed to find that employees were able to spend up to 5 days of their paid working hours to support charities and their local community. Many students wished that they could work for a business in future that gave them these opportunities.

Collaboration, Information and inspiration

The Wonderful Wheelers Lane students, winners of an in school Greetings Card Company challenge day and the Terrific Tenterfield students, a new Enabling Enterprise partner school, worked collaboratively with students from both schools. They used the information they had collected from the professionals from the bank, Lisa, Emma and Gail and their findings from the tour to help create an incredible Celebration Employee Rewards event.

One student, Taeanne, felt nervous about getting involved initially, feeling shy about sharing ideas with a team of students and adults she hadn’t worked with before. However, it didn’t take long before her confidence grew and she made some excellent suggestions to her team. When asked if she was feeling more confident, Taeanne explained that the tour and time to ask the volunteers questions had given her enough information that she needed to boost her confidence.
Teacher, Mr. Banks from Tenterfields Primary, commented on how it was great to see all the students getting involved. Deputy Headteacher, Mrs Hill, was impressed by the students’ abilities to work together at pace, sharing ideas and learning from being in a business environment and working in teams with unfamiliar student colleagues and adults from the business.

Fiery ideas presented to Dragons den judges

The teams really did come up with some exciting event ideas when they presented their final pitches to the team of judges in a ‘Dragons Den’ style pitch for their winning reward event suggestions. The ‘Party Animals’ ice theme would involve great lighting and outdoor gazebos whilst the ‘Party Poppers’ would be developing a fancy dress party with a band and comedian to keep the Unity Trust Bank employees entertained. A ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme would see the ‘Dragon Slayers team providing chocolate trophies and a celebratory boat ride on the chocolate river for winning employees.

Banks values inspire the students

Teams were particularly keen to keep costs down, preferring to spend less of the available budget, in order to enable some of the money to be made available to other charities which the Unity Trust Bank employees supported through their volunteering programme.

Unity Trust Bank’s employees, Lisa, Emma and Gail, all agreed it was not only impressive that the children had picked up on the bank’s commitment to charity work, but that the one team had made reference throughout to their desire as a team to be economical so that Unity Trust Bank could give some of the event budget to charity instead. This motivational value really helped the students stay positive when their budget was suddenly reduced at short notice, requiring problem solving skills and team decision making to stay on budget. They were very willing to give up some of their budget as they felt that the additional funds would be used to do something good in the community.

Head Teacher, Mrs Pecheur, of Wheelers Lane Primary reflected that, ‘just being here, seeing the students in this environment supported aspiration building as most of the students would not have experienced anywhere like this before’, whilst bank volunteers ‘felt the children might take home a favourable view of banks to share with their parents.’
Whilst reflecting on the day, students felt that it would be great to be able to work somewhere in future that offered volunteering opportunities to it’s employees and shared the positive values of Unity Trust Bank. Great to see students from both schools leaving the bank, following their business and enterprise education challenge day with attitudes and aspirations to give something back.

If you like to find out more about how you can embed enterprise into your curriculum and bring learning to life, contact us.

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