The Misbourne school in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, wanted to inspire their new intake of high achieving Year 7s in the very early stages of joining the school.
Feedback from the school’s well-developed careers activity plan had already demonstrated that opening up access to the world of work and encouraging students to explore future goals motivates students and sets their sights high.
Buckinghamshire Skills Hub carries out the Careers and Enterprise Company’s Enterprise Adviser Network programme in Buckinghamshire, and works in close partnership with The Misbourne to strengthen further careers provision at the school. Its brief was now to match them with a company which could host a varied group workplace visit – exposing students to a wide-range of potential careers.
Silverson Machines, the world leaders in the design and manufacture of high shear mixers used in industries as diverse as food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, luboils and petrochemicals, was an obvious choice.
Based in Chesham, but with customers in over 150 countries spanning North America, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Africa, the 70 year old family-owned and run company had long since recognised the need to nurture potential talent from an early age to sustain future growth.
Under Apprentice Trainer Andy Darby, it has built a dedicated, award-winning training centre adjoining its main factory: perfect for student demonstrations while also doubling up as an impressive customer experience centre.
Andy liaised closely with The Misbourne’s Careers Lead, Helen Hill, to agree the objectives and arrange the logistics for the group of 20 students.
The programme they devised would:
- give students a broad overview of how Silverson operates as a business in a general sense, as well as from a more specific STEM industry perspective
- introduce students to a range of employees, from apprentices to senior managers
- be as practical and interactive as possible
- provide plenty of advice about which subjects students needed to focus on for different roles.
On the day
Thanks to the careful organisation, the Year 7s had a very productive, hands on morning. It seemed as though the whole of Silverson had prepared for the visit, as they were welcomed from the boardroom to the shop floor.
After the initial introduction, Andy had arranged for students to see the production of the biggest ever date smoothie! Company videographer Emanuel Caetano had set up his camera at the top of the huge mixer to give students a bird’s eye view of the machine in action. He then also explained how he switched from working in television to join Silverson, creating their extensive how-to video library for customers and live-streaming demonstrations to customers abroad.
Exploring Sales Manager Eli Gasgil’s laboratory was another highlight, witnessing how to make mayonnaise and brushing up on practical science terms. They also asked about her career journey, learning how her background in chemical engineering led to her current role.
While a scavenger hunt around the factory was ruled out due to potential health and safety hazards, students were instead given a quiz to complete on their tour and invited to take as many photos of different machines as possible and given suggestions of other things to watch out for.
Students had been encouraged to bring along their mobiles so that they could also take selfies with as many different members of staff as possible. This had a number of benefits:
- encouraging them to stay actively engaged
- breaking down barriers and getting them to interact with staff
- giving them evidence to show parents first-hand what they had experienced.
Students were particularly in awe of the Disintegrator mixer and peered down from a 6 metre high platform into the vortex which they learned will disintegrate, solubilise or disperse solids up to 1 metre long. They were especially impressed when they realised its application in making chocolate!
Feedback and evaluation
There was so much to do and see that the refreshment stop got squeezed out. But this was the only real suggested improvement to the day!
Misbourne Careers Lead, Helen Hill, fed back: “It was really important for us to excite our new Year 7s about the world of work. We wanted to bring home just why they should seize all opportunities school offers, to both develop employability skills and to work hard to achieve the best possible academic results. The visit to Silverson opened their eyes to so many different futures and has already got them thinking about what they want to be in life. ”
Andy Darby, Apprentice Manager at Siliverson, enthused: “For me, it’s never too early to encourage young people to consider working for Silverson – or about their career options more generally. Getting practical experience of what the workplace really looks like is crucial. I encourage all students to think about the different routes into different jobs.
“For instance, our 5 year apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering combines practical training and study for a recognised qualification. You get paid an excellent wage and benefit from a structured training scheme, and there’s the opportunity for the successful candidates to enjoy a secure job with a modern, progressive company. I love my job, and I hope all The Misbourne students find one they love too.”
Luisa Clarke, Enterprise Coordinator for Buckinghamshire Skills Hub, added: “What a day! It was so rewarding to see the students so inspired, and very satisfying to form such a solid bridge between education and the world of work. It’s my role to work strategically with schools to identify areas of the careers gold standard Gatsby Benchmarks that need strengthening. Seeing for myself the results of this brings home why all schools need to work to achieving each one.”