Louise Wareing from Lancaster Royal Grammar School talks about serendipity, collaboration and mentoring. Thanks to an Erasmus+ cross-sector meeting, organised by the UK National Agency, Louise met and established a relationship with a colleague from a different sector that is having a major impact on her, her school and its pupils. Louise tells us more...
"Lancaster Royal Grammar School is one of the UK's top grammar schools. We have strong international links and have been participating in Erasmus+ projects (formerly Comenius) for many years. As the Erasmus+ coordinator at our school, I am currently managing an EntreComp Project with partners from across Europe. The EntreComp Certificate is intended to bridge the gap between school and the workplace by encouraging young people to gain knowledge and experience in the 15 competencies of the EntreComp Framework. It aims to help them reflect on their entrepreneurial learning and be able to apply the competencies in their future businesses or careers.
This is the first time that I have led a Key Action 1 project, so I took advantage of a free workshop run by the Erasmus+ National Agency to gain some knowledge and guidance and potentially make some useful contacts. I heard the inspiring presentation by Professor Bob Gilmour from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), who talked about their multi-award-winning Erasmus+ PEETS project, which was industry-informed and focused on employability and transversal skills.
It was serendipity! I realised that the PEETS project had direct relevance to the EntreComp Certificate and that I could learn a lot from Bob, the project’s lead. This was too good an opportunity to miss. I therefore decided to get in touch with him and sent a speculative email thanking him for his presentation and asking if he would consider being a mentor for our project. I have had experience of being a mentee before, on an educational leadership programme. I found it inspirational, challenging and thought-provoking, as well as useful in ensuring a constant cycle of reflection and review of progress. With another stroke of luck, it turned out that Bob had experience of being a mentor, so our cross-sector mentoring collaboration was born.
We held initial discussions over the phone, clarifying what we hoped could be gained from our collaboration. I then invited Bob to attend our school’s first Erasmus+ project meeting and deliver his PEETS presentation, which was very well-received by all our partners (pictured right). It also enabled us to meet face-to-face afterwards and establish a mentor/mentee learning agreement. We agreed that a formal relationship would be the best way of conducting the collaboration and that both of us would prepare carefully for our conversations, held every 6-8 weeks. We have since had a third mentoring meeting, via the phone again, where I summarised our progress on the EntreComp Certificate project. I shared with Bob some of our plans and we talked through a few queries I had emailed to Bob prior to the phone call. It was another highly productive and engaging meeting.
On a personal level, my ability to lead the project and ensure an excellent outcome is being greatly enhanced by Bob’s knowledge and experience. He has already challenged me to produce a prize-winning project!
From a cross-sector perspective, I hope that we can both learn from each other. Understanding the skills that universities are looking for in their undergraduates is extremely important for schools to recognise, and I hope that Bob can learn from our students too, understanding their needs and concerns prior to attending university.
Bob’s links to industry will also be very useful to our project, which will develop a large network of employers, industries and businesses, to give our young participants as many opportunities as possible.
Ultimately, I hope the cross-sector mentoring collaboration will enhance the student experience in the EntreComp Framework and help to establish the EntreComp Certificate as a nationally renowned employability award. I also think it will develop my ability to deliver it!"