A new trust hopes to help school children take full advantage of the educational, creative and sporting facilities Building Schools for the Future will create for them
With the general election just around the corner, education spending remains one of the key issues for all those hoping to form the next government. But this is an area of debate I shall leave to the politicians, and instead focus this month on an intimate gathering of about 14,000 young people I am due to attend in July.
The Transformation Trust - a new independent education charity set up by Partnerships for Schools last year - will be marking its first anniversary in style with an event at London’s O2 Arena. Over 1,000 Building Schools for the Future schools, from the local authorities that were announced last month to the 150 completed schools, are being invited to attend- free of charge - the end-of-term celebration event, which will include headline acts, a national “battle of the bands” contest, and the winners of the Young Designer and Young Filmmaker of the Year awards being revealed.
The launch of the Transformation Trust at the London Eye in May 2009
The trust has enjoyed a very successful first year of operation; in the first year of its existence it has attracted more than £2m in funding from companies, with our 10th founding partner, Interserve, joining in March. Our 10 major sponsors, including some big names from the world of construction and ICT, are helping the trust to make a real difference to young people once their BSF school is open.
New and refurbished BSF schools provide pupils with excellent dance, drama, sports, science and other facilities, but the schools themselves - or parents of pupils - may not be able to afford specialist extra-curricular sessions or activities that make the most of these facilities and help young people develop new skills, grow in confidence, and maybe even discover hidden talents.
Students involved in the Shakespeare Schools Festival perform on the South Bank as part of the Transformation Trust’s launch last year
This is where the trust steps in, providing much-needed funding to some great charities and organisations out there which desperately need financial support to allow them to work with more young people in more schools across England. Through association with the trust, the selected projects not only receive funding for at least one year, but as a trust-funded project they are plugged into a network of BSF schools, which can choose projects they would like to work with according to the needs of their students.
Shakespeare Schools Festival, iCould, Magic Breakfast and F1 in Schools are the first projects to be funded by the trust, and have been working with about 100 schools across England since September last year. One student who has been working with F1 in schools said it has “opened up a whole world of opportunity for me. I have learnt so much, from the science and engineering of designing and making the car to the challenge of developing the business strategy for the team”. And there are even reports of students who have been inspired to study engineering and make a career in the motor industry after the time they spent competing in F1 in schools events. If the Transformation Trust, combined with BSF learning environments, can help students aspire to jobs they may have considered out of their reach before, then this is a fantastic achievement as far as I’m concerned.
So that’s why I am looking forward to being at the O2 on 13 July, to give even more young people a taste of what the Transformation Trust can offer them. And I hope that more companies will come forward to support the Trust in its activities over the coming months - it’s an amazing opportunity to create a lasting legacy.
For more information about the Transformation Trust go to www.transformationtrust.org.uk or follow the Trust on Facebook to find out more about its activities and the 02 event.
Tim Byles is chief executive of Partnerships for Schools