Principal proud to see academy taste double award success

The college had a proud start to the new school year when it won the Business Partnership Award at the East Midlands Chamber’s Derbyshire Business Awards, writes Mark Cottingham, principal at Shirebrook Academy.

It then went one better by winning the overall East Midlands regional award.

Mark Cottingham, principal at Shirebrook Academy.

Mark Cottingham, principal at Shirebrook Academy.

It was a great endorsement of the college’s careers and employability work, even though, as an 11-16 school, its students still have to go on to further education before they get their first chance at employment at 18.

By then, I hope that whatever the college has achieved with them, whether it’s through the work experience programme or CV-writing and mock interview sessions, will have prepared them for what employers will be looking for.

But equally I also hope the college has helped employers to understand more about young people.

Sometimes, companies expect the finished article to walk through the door at 16 or 18 and complain schools haven’t prepared them well enough for work or interviews, but it is easy to forget what it was like in your late teens.

Just because a student doesn’t perform with great confidence or poise in an interview, doesn’t mean the college hasn’t tried to prepare them or taught them what to do.

So while they might not have the skills or experience employers need yet, companies should look for the skills and knowledge that they do have – and which more mature employees might lack.

Shirebrook aims to give its students a good attitude towards work.

But they are still young and they will make mistakes, so employers should let them show what they can do, even if they do have rough edges that need smoothing out.