Business insight days inspire students

  • By Paula Kirkby
  • 30 Jan, 2017

Students go behind the scenes in local businesses

16 students from Castle and Marlwood Schools had the opportunity to look behind the scenes at two local employers: Alexandra Workwear and Europa Group .

Sarah MacIsaac from Premium Partners said, “We are incredibly grateful to Alexandra and Europa for engaging with our schools in such a positive way.  Our students have benefited enormously for the experiences they have had with you and your staff.”

Both companies worked with  Premium Partners to put together a fun morning of activities with the aim of finding out more about the people inside the organisation and the jobs that they do.

At Alexandra, textiles students were given a brief history of the company and enjoyed cups of tea and biscuits in the boardroom with some senior members of the company. They then had the opportunity to design outfits for customers; take photographs of garments for a catalogue; see how marketing materials are created; and look at how the company website is adapted and developed.

At Europa Group, students went on a treasure hunt to find specific members of staff whom they then interviewed. They found out about marketing and advertising; health and safety; customer confidentiality; financial compliance. They also had a look at the call centre. They were asked to observe how staff used language differently when addressing customers compared to their colleagues in the staff café.

As a result of these visits, all of the students said that they had increased their confidence in speaking to business people, understanding how a company works and how their studies at school relate to the world of work and their future. The things that most surprised them were how big the companies were, how friendly everyone was and how each person inside the company has an important role to play.

Elaine Fitt from Europa Group said, “We were  delighted to assist the local children in making their career choices. They were well behaved and a credit to their schools. We look forward to repeating this exercise soon.”


By Paula Kirkby 10 Jul, 2017

Local insurance broker and Premium Partner, Brightside Insurance, had good reason to celebrate at the end of last week as one of its apprentices won the highly coveted Apprentice of the Year award at the South West Contact Centre Forum awards. Asher Budd, 19, a former Castle School pupil, received the award in recognition of the dedication he has shown in working towards completing an NVQ Level 3 qualification in Providing Financial Services and attaining his Chartered Insurance Institute status.

Collecting his award, Asher said “I’m really proud to have won this Apprentice of the Year award. It’s a wonderful achievement for me and I’d like to thank my manager Gemma Ferris, my team and everyone who’s played a part in supporting my development since I joined Brightside just one year ago”. Suzie Noble, Brightside’s Chief People Officer, was equally thrilled by the win, and said, “I’m so delighted with Asher has won this award. I’ve been nothing but impressed with the hard work and enthusiasm he’s shown since joining Brightside as an apprentice. He’s a role model for our future generation”.

By Paula Kirkby 28 Jun, 2017
15 Year 7 girls from the Castle School visited Hydrock on the morning of Friday 23rd June as part of International Women in Engineering Day. The focus was to learn about and be inspired by careers in engineering and to have fun! Two female engineers currently working with Hydrock ran the session and challenged the girls' ideas about the profession. They got them to think about what the girls enjoyed doing and the skills they had, then showed them how they could apply these to a whole range of different engineering careers.These  included things like project management; environmental engineering; designing buildings; acoustic and light engineering among many others.

The feedback from the girls was fantastic with 100% of them saying the session had made them think more about how they might plan for their future career. 93% said they felt more confident in their knowledge of science and engineering and 73% understood better how their school work relates to the real world of work and business.

Comments from the girls included:

"I enjoyed being creative and technical at the same time."
"I learned that engineering is about caring for people and the environment, not just about machines!"
"It made me realise engineering can be really fun!"
"I feel inspired!"

Many thanks to Hydrock for running this inspiring opportunity for our students.


By Paula Kirkby 21 Jun, 2017

One of Castle School’s Year 11 students, Lauren Savage, has just secured a 3 year service technician apprenticeship with Berkeley Vale Motors. She is the first female to be offered this opportunity with the Thorbury based Hyundai dealership. Jim Coogan (After Sales Manager) explained that they were not intending to take on an apprentice this year, but they were so impressed with Lauren’s persistence, enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to learn, they agreed to take her on!

He went on to sum up the benefits of taking on an apprentice. “Having an apprentice helps us develop a young person’s understanding of our specific culture and ethos. They become an expert in our products.”

Lauren’s excitement about this opportunity was obvious when talking to her. After a meeting with Jim and her parents to sign all the paperwork, she gave a firm hand shake and said to Jim, “See you bright on early on 17th July!”

We’re sure Berkeley Vale Motors won’t regret it! Good luck Lauren!

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By Paula Kirkby 10 Jul, 2017

Local insurance broker and Premium Partner, Brightside Insurance, had good reason to celebrate at the end of last week as one of its apprentices won the highly coveted Apprentice of the Year award at the South West Contact Centre Forum awards. Asher Budd, 19, a former Castle School pupil, received the award in recognition of the dedication he has shown in working towards completing an NVQ Level 3 qualification in Providing Financial Services and attaining his Chartered Insurance Institute status.

Collecting his award, Asher said “I’m really proud to have won this Apprentice of the Year award. It’s a wonderful achievement for me and I’d like to thank my manager Gemma Ferris, my team and everyone who’s played a part in supporting my development since I joined Brightside just one year ago”. Suzie Noble, Brightside’s Chief People Officer, was equally thrilled by the win, and said, “I’m so delighted with Asher has won this award. I’ve been nothing but impressed with the hard work and enthusiasm he’s shown since joining Brightside as an apprentice. He’s a role model for our future generation”.

By Paula Kirkby 28 Jun, 2017
15 Year 7 girls from the Castle School visited Hydrock on the morning of Friday 23rd June as part of International Women in Engineering Day. The focus was to learn about and be inspired by careers in engineering and to have fun! Two female engineers currently working with Hydrock ran the session and challenged the girls' ideas about the profession. They got them to think about what the girls enjoyed doing and the skills they had, then showed them how they could apply these to a whole range of different engineering careers.These  included things like project management; environmental engineering; designing buildings; acoustic and light engineering among many others.

The feedback from the girls was fantastic with 100% of them saying the session had made them think more about how they might plan for their future career. 93% said they felt more confident in their knowledge of science and engineering and 73% understood better how their school work relates to the real world of work and business.

Comments from the girls included:

"I enjoyed being creative and technical at the same time."
"I learned that engineering is about caring for people and the environment, not just about machines!"
"It made me realise engineering can be really fun!"
"I feel inspired!"

Many thanks to Hydrock for running this inspiring opportunity for our students.


By Paula Kirkby 21 Jun, 2017

One of Castle School’s Year 11 students, Lauren Savage, has just secured a 3 year service technician apprenticeship with Berkeley Vale Motors. She is the first female to be offered this opportunity with the Thorbury based Hyundai dealership. Jim Coogan (After Sales Manager) explained that they were not intending to take on an apprentice this year, but they were so impressed with Lauren’s persistence, enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to learn, they agreed to take her on!

He went on to sum up the benefits of taking on an apprentice. “Having an apprentice helps us develop a young person’s understanding of our specific culture and ethos. They become an expert in our products.”

Lauren’s excitement about this opportunity was obvious when talking to her. After a meeting with Jim and her parents to sign all the paperwork, she gave a firm hand shake and said to Jim, “See you bright on early on 17th July!”

We’re sure Berkeley Vale Motors won’t regret it! Good luck Lauren!

By Paula Kirkby 24 May, 2017
By Paula Kirkby 22 May, 2017
Our final business forum of the year was held at Eastwood Park Hotel on the evening of Thursday 18th May.  The room was buzzing with students and businesses chatting about what has been going on at Premium Partners over the last few months. There were accomplished and inspiring presentations by students later on, covering projects from the Education Engineering Scheme with Agas, to the innovative Thornbury Youth Hub; wind turbine making and other projects at Essilor, to valuable work experience with Berkeley Vale Motors.

It felt like a real celebration of what Premium Partners is all about and how much we can achieve through engaging our students with local businesses. Thank you to Thornbury Deli who catered the event, and to all those who attended!
By Paula Kirkby 06 Apr, 2017

Essilor once again opened their doors to 16 Year 9 students from Castle School to give them some challenging projects to complete. This year, there were four products built: a wind turbine; an infinity mirror; an FM radio and a solar panel. Students took a look behind the scenes at the manufacturing process at the company, learned the scientific and mathematical theory behind each of their products and discovered new skills in the workshop. The results were impressive and students were clearly proud of what they had achieved.

A celebration lunch was held on 5th April at Essilor where parents, Essilor employees and Castle School staff saw student presentations of their work. Certificates of achievement were awarded by the Mayor and Mike Kirkley, Director of Essilor.

This project is a great example of how the links between business and education through the Premium Partnership scheme can develop employability skills, confidence and strong networks for our students. A huge thanks to Essilor who have been such a pleasure to work with!
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