Lee Hezzlewood, East Lancashire Regional Director of national IT Support company Eitex has been spending time back in school.
When Darwin Aldridge Community Academy asked for volunteers for their Words for Work program from local businesses, Lee whose business interest also include being a director of IT Security Specialists Secure Thinking, put himself forward without really knowing what he was letting himself in for.
“My initial understanding was more around helping the students with written communication,” said Lee. “But when we attended our training it became apparent that the program had wider goals – to help the children with all aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication.”
The Words for Work program is part of a national scheme intended to improve the communication skills of year 9 children (13-14yrs) and involves business volunteers showing the students how key communication skills are used in the real world of work and business.
The program at Darwin Academy consisted of 8 volunteers working with the students for 6 weeks. The first week the students made a presentation to the volunteers and then had their presentation skills and performance assessed with recommendations from the volunteers on how to improve their approach.
The second week involved the students and volunteers interviewing each other with ideas and suggested improvements again passed.
Over the remaining 4 weeks the students and the volunteers split into groups with the objective of creating a product highlighting good communication skills and then presenting it to the other groups.
The final week was supposed to be where the groups each presented their product to the other teams. But unfortunately one of the groups hit a rather major snag, as Lee explains.
“Our group was making a short slide-show based film with sound effects and music. Unfortunately, the finished product was placed on a USB memory stick in the care of one of the students who didn’t make the session.
“It left the other members of the group devastated and they were worried how they were going to get around it!”
By a twist of fate, the school had decided to do yet another presentation of the products to a wider audience including the Principal Mr Loughran, and so an additional date was added to the program.
“This gave us a great way to turn our disaster into a massive positive. So between Imelda O’Keefe of IMS Coaching [the other volunteer in the group], the students and myself, we decided that the “Release Date” for our film would be after Easter and so we left the audience with a little bit of background on our project and a teaser as to what the final product will be like,” said Lee. “All the volunteers thought this was the best lesson the students could have learned – how to turn what should have been a disaster into a really positive outcome.”
The final presentations will now be held on the 6th May at Darwin Aldridge Community Academy.