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Learning Maths Outside the Classroom - The Bentley Foundation Programme

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 29 April 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 21 October 2010 by ncetm_administrator
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The Bentley Foundation Programme
The Bentley Foundation Programme is a ten-week course covering the key skills that multinational employers expect from their apprentices. It takes place at St Thomas More Catholic High School, a 11-16 comprehensive with Maths and Computing specialist status in Crewe, Cheshire.

Programme Summary
This is the second year this programme has run and this year has been extended to include one of our partner schools, Kings Grove High School.

For many years we have been very aware of our inability to prepare pupils for the world of work. Our pupils used to apply for employment and then, often, had to face assessments for which they had not been prepared. As a result, when we were thinking about appropriate community activities for our specialist school bid, we immediately decided to try to address this situation.

Originally, we approached Bentley Motors in Crewe and asked what we could do to help support the pupils of Crewe schools in their possible applications for apprenticeships with them. From this initial phone call, the “Bentley Foundation Programme” was created. This programme set out to equip pupils interested in an apprenticeship with Bentley, with a foundation level of technical and personal skills. It was designed and assessed by Bentley and was jointly delivered with St Thomas More staff.

It was launched to our current Year 11 pupils in November 2006 by Julia Gill, Development Officer at Bentley Motors and Alex Ryan, an apprentice at Bentley and a participant in last year's programme. As the Bentley apprenticeship requires applicants to achieve a grade C at GCSE in Maths and English we asked pupils to apply if they were predicted these results. As a result, many of our pupils completed the application. They were then shortlisted and formally interviewed by Julia and nine pupils of varied abilities, including one from Kings Grove, were eventually selected onto the ten-week programme.

Pupils were given a portfolio in which all evidence of learning had to be kept in order to enable them to be assessed. This included hand-outs from the sessions, practice test papers and computer print-outs. They also had to fill in questionnaires before each session, designed to find out pupils conceptions and expectations and complete action point forms after each session, to enable the pupils to reflect on their learning in the session and the skills they needed to develop.

Week 1 - We started with an induction afternoon at Bentley Motors where pupils were made aware of our expectations of them and the requirements of the programme. Pupils were asked to outline their own expectation of the programme and how they were going to successfully complete it. We were fortunate to be given a tour of the production facility and pupils saw an example of the bullet proof glass that was fitted to the Queen’s car.

Week 2 - In order to prepare pupils to take apprenticeship or entrance examinations to universities the pupils had sessions in school covering Verbal, Numerical and Spatial Reasoning skills. The purpose of this was to improve their ability to answer questions under time-pressured conditions. All pupils found these sessions useful and several realised that they needed to work on improving their speed with mental calculations.

Week 3 - Our pupils spent an afternoon at Bentley Motors participating in a workshop on presentation skills. They worked on the qualities of a good presentation and on the skills needed to deliver a professional talk. The participants were asked to talk about a topic of their choice for two minutes without the time to prepare. This gave them the valuable experience that “failing to plan, is planning to fail” and that it was very easy to talk for too long. It also gave pupils their first insight into the assessment criteria for the programme as all of them had to present for five minutes in order to pass.

Week 4 - This week was the first of two IT awareness sessions given in school. In order to be a successful apprentice with Bentley, the participants needed to demonstrate that they have certain essential skills. In this session pupils covered the basics of Outlook and Excel. In Outlook they focused on sending and receiving emails, managing diary appointments and maintaining contact lists. In Excel, they looked at creating spreadsheets, formatting cells, sorting information and writing formulae. To help assess their learning all pupils had to email a questionnaire to Bentley.

Week 5 - Pupils again went to Bentley to take part in a team-building session which involved them making a car and a bridge for it to travel over. They first worked on the qualities of a good team and all agreed that they would need a strong leader. The pupils were then given two bags of apparatus, one group was asked to build a small car that was sturdy enough for one of them to sit on and move, the other group was to make the bridge. Although the two groups very quickly realised that they would have to swap equipment with each other and talk about the dimensions of their constructions, it took them much longer to realise that they would have to elect a leader. After doing this both groups managed to finish the task in the time allowed and they were successful in taking the car over the bridge.

Week 6 - The second of the IT awareness sessions had pupils covering skills on Powerpoint and Word. Most pupils had a basic working knowledge of Word so the tasks focused on learning the skills needed to put together a presentation. They discussed how and where to use coloured text and backgrounds, hyperlinks, and animation. Following this session all pupils decided to use Powerpoint to assist with the delivery of their presentation assignment.

Week 7 - The participants were in school to attend the first of their conversational German sessions. Since Bentley is owned by Volkswagen there are many opportunities to work with German-speaking employees. They learnt how to say ‘hello’, ‘my name is…’, ‘I live in…’, ‘my age is…’, and ‘I would like to work as a … when I leave school’. They also practised using the formal and informal introductions.

Week 8 - During this week pupils were given time to make their preparations for their presentations. They were able to put all of their learning to use as they were asked to discuss what they had achieved, what have had learnt and their future career aspirations. They also had to formally invite, by letter, selected teachers and governors to watch them give their talks.

Week 9 - The pupils took part in their second conversational German session. Here they learnt how to describe in German what they had learnt during the programme and why they thought the ability to speak German was important in business. To assess their learning pupils were asked to speak in German at the celebration event at the end of the programme.

Week 10 - Pupils delivered their five-minute presentation to the invited teachers and governors at Bentley. All pupils talked about their enjoyment of the programme and the experiences and skills they had developed. We were all impressed by the maturity and confidence the pupils demonstrated during their presentations.

Later in the week, Julia Gill formally assessed the pupils by having a one-to-one discussion with them about their experiences on the programme and by reviewing their portfolios. We were delighted to hear that all pupils had presented the evidence of their learning in their portfolios and had successfully completed the programme.

Celebration Event
On Monday 19th March all pupils attended a celebration event at Bentley Motors. They and their parents were treated to a guided tour of the factory and had a chance to have photographs with the various classic cars on display. Following this, the pupils made another short presentation detailing their experience and all were presented with certificates.

We feel very privileged to be involved in the design and implementation of this prestigious programme. Our pupils have grown in confidence and have gained many new transferable skills. Several have expressed an interest in applying to Bentley on leaving school at 16, whereas others hope to be accepted onto training programmes following further education.

We cannot thank Julia Gill from Bentley Motors enough for all the work she has done to set up this very demanding, but extremely valuable, programme. We also thank the Bentley management for their support and hospitality.

Julia has recently submitted an application for a National Training Award; we hope to hear very soon if we have been successful.

 Click here to view the presentation prepared by The Bentley Foundation on the reasoning behind the creation of the Training Programme.

 Click here to view the presentation of slides from two Year 11 students who participated in the programme.




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