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(Very) early careers and mentoring – Adopt a Student with Lilian Baylis Technology School

Since the very first days of Principle One, we have had a strong social value programme at the heart of our culture and have worked with a wide range of partner organisations who share our values. This has evolved over time as we have grown and we are continuously adding new partnerships, often driven by our staff and issues that they are passionate in tackling. One theme that has been consistently important to us is that of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and tackling inequalities of opportunity in our industry.

We have also been conscious that while we have been able to continue to offer roles at graduate and internship level over the last few years, many schools and colleges have struggled to give their students the same level of opportunity to gain real experience of the workplace as they could before the pandemic. The move to remote or hybrid working has made it harder to offer work experience and enable students to make informed decisions around their post education pathways. Our partnerships have always been based on working with organisations where we can make a real, tangible difference through direct action, and we felt that Lilian Baylis Technology School’s ‘Adopt a Student’ scheme, where students are matched with mentors from local companies, was the perfect opportunity for our staff to get involved.

Lilian Baylis is a multi-cultural, mixed comprehensive high school in Vauxhall, just a 15-minute walk from Principle One’s Tintagel House office. Over 90% of the students at the school are eligible for the pupil premium (funding to improve education outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in schools in England), and the majority of students are from minority ethnic groups, with over half the school’s population speaking English as an additional language.​ Lilian Baylis is rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and has many students focusing on technology in their sixth form studies, so there is plenty of scope for Principle One staff to help them learn more about the industry and whether it may be right for them.

Our staff provide regular one-to-one mentoring sessions to Lilian Baylis students, which provide the students with advice on everything from writing a CV, to applying to university, to what career paths are available to them. This service is offered for students in Year 12, with mentorships carrying on into Year 13 to provide a consistent point of support throughout their time in Sixth Form. For many staff this is their first opportunity to act as a mentor and we provide training and support to get them started. Often, this is the first step before taking on a career mentoring role within Principle One.

Beyond the mentoring support, students have the opportunity to visit the team in Tintagel House and this summer, we were delighted to welcome our first LBTS student to join our Sixth Form work experience week, learning consulting and technology skills and applying them to a real-life business problem, in this case centred around cyber stalking.

For Maggie Elstob, one of our Delivery Managers, it’s been a chance to make a difference in supporting a student preparing for university. “I really enjoyed working with my mentee on exploring different career options and helping her with what to include in a personal statement for her university application. It was great to see her confidence grow across the few months we worked together as she became more comfortable talking about ideas she had for her future. For her, I think speaking to someone who is closer in age than a teacher provided a more tangible outlook on her career as well as a useful sounding board. For me, it was great to have the opportunity to champion young women and their careers in a practical way, and I look forward to supporting more students from Lilian Baylis in the future.”

Some of Principle One’s mentors recently attended a celebration evening at Lilian Baylis Technology School, which thanked mentors for their hard work on the Adopt a Student Programme. This celebration evening highlighted the importance of the support provided by Principle One and other organisations and recognised the value that both mentors and mentees get from it.

Tom King, Business Consultant, reflected on the evening: “It was fantastic to hear from mentees the value they have received from the programme. LBTS students are diligent and self-starting, but often do not have the opportunities or network to gain work experience, or even the knowledge of what working in an office is like. As mentors we can help provide advice on CVs, university application and career choices which they would not otherwise have access to, and it is great to help level the playing field for these students.”

We are looking forward to further developing our relationship and hosting an Open Afternoon for Lillian Baylis Sixth Form students as we head into 2023. This will be a great opportunity to learn about different roles available in the technology industry and pathways for entry, how to create a good CV and insight into life at university and in the workplace.

You can find out more about Lilian Baylis and how you can support Adopt a Student here.


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