Internal award for Business Class champion

Cobham plc administrator Julie Ann Howard has won an internal award for her volunteering activities at St Aldhelm's Academy in Poole, which the company is partnered with through Business Class.

An engineering company based in Wimborne, Dorset, Cobham plc run the Sir Alan Cobham Award – named after their founder – as a mark of recognition for their employees in areas including corporate responsibility. Julie Ann recently received a Silver Sir Alan Cobham award for her work with the local school helping to raise its profile in the community.

Julie Ann’s team, Group Financial Control, which has supported the local community for many years and in many different ways. For example, in 2012 the team were involved in rebuilding work on local heath land following a fire.

In 2013 they decided to build on this experience by partnering with St Aldhelm’s Academy in Poole through BITC’s Business Class scheme.

St Aldhelm’s Academy serves an area of relatively high social disadvantage. Since being designated as a failing school by Government inspectors, it had struggled to become the school of choice within the local community.

That situation is now being turned around, through conversion to Academy status, a new senior team, and an £11 million investment in new facilities, including a new campus which opened in September 2013. Through its Business Class partnership with the school, Cobham hopes to help it on its path to success.

One of the immediate challenges facing the school was to encourage parents and potential pupils to look at the school and to see the difference that has been made. This is where Julie Ann came in, putting a lot of effort into raising the school’s profile, much of it in her own time. This included:

  • developing contacts with a local radio station, resulting in news coverage and a commitment to support the school in future.

  • developing contacts with a media company and designing advertising material about the school campus and open days, to be displayed on local buses.

  • redesigning the school's promotional material.

As well as helping the school, Juie Ann’s work has also resulted in raising Cobham’s profile within the school and the wider catchment area.

For further information on this partnership and how your school or business can get involved in Business Class, contact Nikki Wakefield on