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a. 1. Strategic commitment and professional development 2. Continuous and progressive progress for each young person 3. Mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships with employers 4. Self-assessment and reflection supported by teachers and mentors 5. Informed choices about course options and career direction





e. X


GCSE students inspired to consider product design from visit to local engineering firm Teachers at Holy Trinity Media and Arts College in Birmingham wanted to encourage 20 GCSE Product Design students to apply their academic learning to a real situation. The solution was a partnership with manufacturer Acme Whistles – a firm that is part of the city’s manufacturing heritage, employing local people in a factory that has been in operation for well over 100 years and that carries out more than 30 processes. A mixed ability group was given an assignment that addressed learning outcomes from the GCSE specification. During lesson time, students learnt about design theory and the links between design and purchase. They also researched the Acme brand and business. The group visit to the factory involved an introduction by the CEO, a master class in whistle design, an informal coffee break with the chance to speak to staff and a tour of the factory guided by the factory manager. The students were motivated by the experience and posed questions that the CEO described as ‘incredibly insightful and advanced’. This was followed by offers of work experience places for the school. Towards the end of the visit the students were set a challenge to design some packaging for Acme Whistles that would be used to promote sales during the build-up to Christmas.

Impact on the Students: -


In spite of attracting students enthusiastic about vocational learning, much of the course content is largely theoretical. The project brought the theory to life and provided students with the basis of a key piece of course work required for the GCSE. Students discovered how a factory works and learned about manufacturing jobs and product design processes. Students were better able to connect classroom learning with career opportunities.

Impact on the School: -

The project lifted the atmosphere in the class, creating a more positive attitude and stronger team spirit, which has contributed to improved learning in students’ wider studies. This project has provided a model for other subject areas in the school, encouraging the use of ‘Meaningful Learning Experiences’ to help enrich and enhance curriculum content. The offer from the employer to provide high quality work experience placements was an unexpected outcome from the project – but one that is highly valued by the school The practical activities resulting from the project have raised awareness about employment opportunities that can arise from studying the subject – helping to attract non-academic students.


Impact on the business partners: -

The project has helped to raise brand awareness and business reputation for local employer Acme among the younger generation – and potential future employees. Acme was able to tap into the creativity and fresh ideas of young people, applying this to a real business situation. This is unusual in a process driven and structured business environment.

The school created learning resources to prepare students for the factory visit and subsequently shared their experiences on the school website. This helped to raise interest among teachers in other subject areas.

The site visit benefited from direct involvement of the Chief Executive and the Factory Manager. The company was impressed enough to offer work placement and teaching staff found a few surprises: ‘After today I am going to have to reassess how I work with some of these students – as they have really surprised me!’ Mike Jerome, Deputy Head

More information:


002 acme  

Employer: Acme (manufacturing) Education: Secondary Good Practice Framework: 2c, 2e, 3d, 4a

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