Grace Academy World of Work Challenge Day

Mitie’s commitment via the Foundation is to support schools and colleges by providing a range of initiatives to inspire the next generation of people into rewarding careers. Grace Academy has three sites in the West Midlands; Coventry, Solihull and Darlaston, which Mitie has been supporting with volunteers and sponsorships for various events since 2009.

Mitie volunteers took part in the annual Challenge Days at Grace Academy Coventry and Darlaston. These are traditionally the key enterprising activities for their Year 8 and Year 9 students and they focus on developing many aspects of the pupils’ business and inter-personal skills. With the mentorship of business volunteers, students are encouraged to use their communication, teamwork and leadership skills.

Yvonne Perry, Business and Community Partnerships Manager for Grace Academy, said: ‘It was excellent to see the business partners completely immersed in all of the tasks throughout the day and passionately advocating good practice, praising and encouraging students and working with them in order to get the job done.’

The students were asked to participate in three exercises, each designed to encourage teamwork, critical thinking and communication. Firstly, the students assembled a wind turbine. The winning team was the one with the most innovative design and highest electrical output (measured by a voltmeter).

Students then had to work in teams using their planning and organising skills to make cakes, and had to pay particular attention to the detailed instructions given to them. This task also requires using initiative, whilst also applying good decision making skills in order to add value to the end product of the cake making process. The winning team has to produce high quality cakes which are consistently uniform and appealing to the eye.

The third exercise, and probably the most challenging one, is the construction of a dome. Using nothing more than A1 size paper, scissors, sellotape, marker pens and rulers, students have to create paper tubes which are then assembled to create a dome structure. This task is perfect for those who like hands-on tasks that also require good leadership and organisational skills. The challenge is to complete the dome on time. For some teams it meant that failing to plan was planning to fail - a lesson learnt for all walks of life.

Mitie business partners encourage competitiveness, good planning and team-spirit, sharing with students some of their knowledge and experience. Students who took on the advice and guidance of their teachers and business partners flourished and were rewarded for it.

Nevertheless, all students had the opportunity to explore their business skills by learning something new and relevant to their education and future career paths. Although still at a relatively young age – Key Stage 3 - with no prior workplace experience, they demonstrated marvellous examples of good workmanship and camaraderie.

Feedback from volunteers

'I believe days like this demonstrate Mitie's commitment to investing in young and diverse talent', Paddy Stanley, Head of the Mitie Foundation

'The reception we received from staff and pupils was first class. It was a pleasure to work with other members of Mitie', Fred Cook, Security Support Specialist,

'It was good to witness at first-hand our community input. These days are invaluable lessons for these young people. A number of individuals stood out by their work ethic', Gethin Rees, Business Development Manager

Feedback from students

'My confidence has improved after working with the business partners', Hargina Sandhu

'The world of Work Day has helped me learn new skills and believe in my ability', Cori Haley

'The business partners encouraged us to work as a team and we found that working together makes the task easier', George Jenkins

'The business partners were really good with us and communicated really well with our team. We learnt the benefits of planning and organising', Jordan Giddings

'Working with friends and other students who I never worked with before was great. Our team did well with the help of our business partners', Billy Green