Education news

Peter Weir congratulates St Michael's College on business partnership

St Michael's College in Enniskillen is working closely with Quinn Industrial Holdings

A SCHOOL'S partnership with a business, designed to create career opportunities for young people, has won praise from the education minister.

St Michael's College in Enniskillen has been working closely with Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) since early last year.

The two formalised a five-year agreement that is designed to combat a `brain drain' that exists in the area.

The partnership provides a clear pathway for pupils to develop their educational attainment as well as the option to secure sustainable and highly skilled employment at Quinn.

In addition, there are bursary awards for the top GCSE engineering and GCSE technology and design; paid work placements for Year 13 pupils and access to technical help and expertise.

It also involves open access tours of all Quinn facilities plus dedicated mentorship from the Quinn technical team as well as access to accredited CPD modules in construction, design, structure and material.

During a visit to Enniskillen, education minister Peter Weir said he was extremely impressed with the type and scale of the arrangement.

"Other schools and businesses could learn a great deal from your experience and knowledge and indeed I would encourage you share your experience with your partner schools in the local learning community," he said.

"As you have demonstrated, schools and businesses need to work together for the benefit of both the young people in the area and the local economy."

During the visit, Mr Weir took the opportunity to watch technology students working on projects.

"Schools have a great deal of flexibility in how they deliver the statutory curriculum, including the range of subjects and types of courses and qualifications they can offer. However, schools can benefit greatly from the input of local employers when it comes to designing their curricular offer," he added.

"Working together, schools and employers can ensure that learners are provided with opportunities to acquire appropriate, in demand skills that can lead to employment."

St Michael's principal Mark Henry said, since the school opened its new technology and design centre of excellence, it had been greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm of the pupils who had embraced exciting new opportunities.

"The minister was clearly impressed with what has been achieved to date and we now look forward to further developing the relationship," he said.

"We think that other parts of Northern Ireland and indeed the UK and Irish Republic may find what we are doing inspiring and there is clearly a hugely positive sense of momentum with this initiative."

Kevin Lunney, Chief Operating Officer of QIH, said the minister had encouraged both the school and Quinn to deepen their relationship as an exemplar on a national scale.

"We feel that this initiative highlights the deep connection which Quinn has with the local community and reflects our desire to offer high quality careers to young people from the local area," he said.

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