Platanos College, an inclusive school located in Stockwell, has a specialist business and enterprise focus. Platanos College, a Platanos Trust school, has been recognised nationally as one of the top-performing schools in England. Over the past decade, the school has undergone a radical change, leading it to achieve a three times “Outstanding” status.
Education is a key tenet of my campaign and with a large potential workforce on the doorstep of the Square Mile, it’s part of our responsibility to ensure that a qualified, informed pipeline of future employees can be nurtured from the Inner City.
In this Q&A session with Ms. Mona Taybi, acting Head of school at Platanos College, I explore the preconceptions held about The City and what aspirations her pupils have.
Q: What does “The City” mean to young people in your school?
A: Many of the pupils at Platanos College are aware of what The City means and like many teenagers; they are often impressed by the concept of working in a large office and wearing a smart suit to work. They know about the stereotypical jobs that are presented as being attributed to The City, for example, banking and finance based professions; however they are not fully aware of the intricate nature of The City. I think that for our pupils it is the full exposure to the bigger picture of what further opportunities there are for them in The City, where they need to be informed.
Q: Do you think they see it as a place where they could seek employment? Are they daunted by it?
I think because we prepare our pupils for a range of careers and they have an understanding of what The City represents, they are aspirational and do want to work in The City. It is the case however, that they may be unaware of the different pathways and how to access obtaining a profession in The City. It is most certainly daunting for them because it is an environment that many of them have not had a chance to experience. It is something we try to continuously expose our pupils to, through high expectations and a plethora of different trips and roadshows.
Q: Have you run any programs at Platanos to give kids an insight into what sort of jobs The City employs for?
We are fortunate to have an active and working partnership with The Brokerage, a charity based in The City, who organise careers trips ‘working in the city’ for our pupils in Year 9 Year 10 and Year 11. Small groups of pupils have had the opportunity to go to work for the day and to experience The City, first hand.
Willmott Dixson provides our pupils with a full day of ‘an introduction to the world of engineering’; they run a careers and enterprise exchange and pupils participate in very informative workshops exploring what engineering means.
We also work closely with Into University, which enables pupils to experience a day in the life of university, what it is like to go to university and to actively sit in lectures, speak to staff and walk around the grounds.
The annual Careers Fair is a very successful event, which takes place on site for year 11, before they apply to colleges and further education. We invite many businesses and further education providers to set up stalls which the pupils visit, they can ask direct questions and find out what is best suited to them for their next steps.
Q: What sort of link up with companies would possibly benefit your school?
As a business and enterprise school, it would be most beneficial to be able to identify and then expose pupils to those specific skills employers are looking for. Specifically looking at skills, which are linked to particular occupations, means that the pupils can see how what we teach, directly prepares them for their next steps.
Pupils need to understand what is required of them in the world of work and what they are best suited to. Marketing companies, finance, banking, law firms, start-up companies and large ICT companies would be great places for pupils to be linked to, through STEM subjects. We do this already, but to be able to achieve it on a larger scale, would mean we can provide a wider variety of opportunities for every pupil.