In recent years, the main engagement with local schools was through Members and Freemen of the Company whose involvement varied. Some were governors and others were involved in various projects to improve education. Recently there has been a great deal of criticism that schools do not provide young people with the skills to enter the workplace. In 2010, the Master Cutler Bill Speirs agreed with Sheffield City Council that the Company would endeavour to connect schools more firmly to business in general and manufacturing in particular. A study was conducted into what business needed from school leavers and as a consequence of the findings, the Cutlers’ “Made in Sheffield” project was launched. This is intended to embed work skills into the curriculum through real life projects, work placements, internships, and greater engagement between businesses and schools. A Cutlers’ “Made in Sheffield” Passport will be issued to those who have successfully completed the project. This will show the work and real life skills that they have gained and it will be signed off both by school staff and employers.
To put this into practice, the Master Cutler for 2011/12 instituted an Education Standing Committee comprising Members of the Company, representatives from the City Council and Work-wise (the organization chosen to provide the bridge between business and schools).
Three pilot schools were selected in the first instance, Yewlands Technology College, Stocksbridge High School and Bradfield School with a view to working with the 14-16 age group. Firth Park, Sheffield College and Longley Park Sixth Form College have also been intimately involved in the work to allow rapid progress once the pilot has proved the route; it is planned to expand the project to other schools and to the 16-18 age group at the earliest opportunity.
The project was formally launched on 20 April 2012 when the Master Cutler and each of the Head Teachers of the three pilot schools signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the school and the Company of Cutlers. .
There are other initiatives in the Region and it is important that there is coherence between this project and them. In particular the University Technical College and the Advanced Manufacturing Institute Training Centre will have similar requirements. The work done so far has been discussed with them and has, in parts been adjusted to ensure that there is no conflict. The result should therefore be coherence of programme and only one passport.
The project went live for the school year 2012-2013 and is going well. Each of the Pilot Schools now has a Cutlers’ Representative who provides the link between them and business. The Universities are keen to help and efforts are being made to ensure that their outreach programmes are coordinated with us.
The first Cutlers’ Made in Sheffield Passports were handed out in 2013.