School means business

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The Independent Online
MIXING education with business has become all the rage, with politicians and industrialists insisting on the benefits of making learning applicable to work. But few establishments can have embraced the idea as wholeheartedly as a Milton Keynes secondary school, writes Roger Trapp.

In the past few months, Kingsbrook School has formed such strong links with its local business community that it says firms are approaching it to become involved in projects and sponsorship deals.

For instance, builders' merchants have supplied materials for a school production of the musical Godspell, while some A-level art students have contributed designs to the promotional literature used by the nearby arts venue run by the music stars, John Dankworth and Cleo Laine.

Other companies have sponsored the lunchtime science club and a young writers' festival, and donated display units for exhibitions.

The programme is the result of the appointment last September of Ian Narin as business and press liaison officer at the school. Building on the philosophy that the school is part of the community, he says he sees it as a 'reciprocal situation'. Instead of just asking companies to help or donate things, he has adopted a policy of repaying businesses' assistance by, say, offering advertising space in school magazines or sending business studies pupils on placements.

'It's a move away from the cap-in-hand approach - that's not a business attitude, it's a begging attitude,' he said.

Mr Narin, a humanities teacher, says he has been given a free hand by Peter Burrell, head of the school. The guiding principle is producing a deal whereby everybody benefits. 'That's why companies are coming back,' he said.