Wates - Business Class

South West Business Class Local Impact Award, Highly Commended 2013

Since 2011 Wates Construction Ltd. have been in a Business Class partnership with Kings Oak Academy in Bristol. The partnership was developed to raise the aspirations and life chances of students from the school, as well as to enrich Wates as a business. Mock interview sessions, mentoring and a careers fair have helped to achieve this, with positive reports from pupils and staff, and real results in the form of students finding apprenticeships.

Business Impacts

  • The partnership played a key role in positioning Wates among it's peers in tender documentation, helping them win business in the education sector which makes up 45% of their work
  • Involvement in Business Class attracted high level staff to work for the company and provided internal development opportunities

Social Impacts

  • Mentoring and Mock Interview sessions helped to bring a business purpose and raise the confidence of students
  • Teachers noted improved behaviour and engagement from students, many who previously didn't know what they would do after their GCSE's researched and secured places in 6th form and other FE facilities
  • Helped pupils who were projected to become NEET's onto apprenticeship schemes

Wates logoAs a firm, Wates construction, one of the largest family owned construction companies in the UK, want to demonstrate that have a responsible outlook, and a commitment towards the communities in which they work. They do this principally through their Reshaping Tomorrow programme, their sustainability framework which looks to raise aspirations & skills and to create local job opportunities as a way of giving something back. It is in this context in which Wates in Bristol have been in a  Business in the Community Business Class partnership with their new local school, Kings Oak Academy.

Developing greater aspiration in the community is a key challenge and Wates have been outstanding ambassadors and partners in this challenge. The Wates team has brought a high quality, focused and encouraging approach which has been well received by staff and students. It has been a win-win situation for the academy.

- Ian Frost,
Principal, Kings Oak Academy
At the outset of the partnership Kings Oak Academy and Wates Bristol took time to design and develop a programme, taking care to make sure that whatever they decided to aim for could be delivered to the high standards they both wanted and was realistic and achievable.

The broad aims they identified were to raise the aspirations of students and to help them achieve a sense of business purpose, and they set out to achieve this using several carefully designed schemes.

Initially they put together sessions of mock interviews, targeted at likely NEET year 13 students, and with the whole of year 11; On the day the students were provided with a choice of four job profiles for apprenticeships, they decided which they'd apply for and submitted CV's and cover letters in advance. Following this they were interviewed by Wates Bristol staff, at the conclusion of the interview detailed feedback was given and then the students were re-interviewed within 90 minutes, and at the conclusion they were given reflective feedback on how they'd improved from the first.

Alongside this Wates decided they'd provide a mentoring programme which would aim to motivate students and give them careers advice. This scheme was delivered by 6 members of Wates staff, who in total supported 72 year 11 students.

In addition to these two schemes a careers fair was held which had the format of an open discussion with local professionals alongside specific industry presentation. Wates supported this fair through their supply chain, but also in providing a member of staff to contribute.

For the interviews 14 members of staff were provided over 4 days in total, and for the mentoring 6 staff took part over 8 days. In addition Wates provided vouchers to students which performed or attained the most during the schemes. 

"Wates have been working with KOA now for more than a year and it has been a really successful partnership. The mentoring team have brought with them a range of personal and professional experience to offer support and challenge to our groups of Year 11s and sixth formers. Individual feedback from our students from mentoring sessions and practice interviews has been excellent. These sessions have had significant impact on the engagement of less motivated students and helped model professional behaviour and raise aspirations for boys and girls alike. Developing greater aspiration in the community is a key challenge and Wates have been outstanding ambassadors and partners in this challenge. The Wates team has brought a high quality, focused and encouraging approach which has been well received by staff and students. Dominic Somerville has worked personally with me and with our Business and Careers Manager, and communication and delivery has been first class and I cannot fault the commitment and dedication of the team. It has been a win-win situation for the academy." Ian Frost, Principal, Kings Oak Academy

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