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‘Together we can do so much more’

Business and schools: A partnership that delivers benefits to both parties, says The Harpur Trust

IN RECENT weeks the focus of media has been on the digital deficit faced by many pupils across the nation.

It has been heartening to see the outpouring of generosity from both individuals and businesses in our area; from donating old (and sometimes brand new) devices, or in the case of one Bedford estate agent, offering a to print pupils’ work if they are without a printer.

“Businesses can play a vital role in supporting schools and partnership can deliver significant benefits to both parties,” says Lucy Bardner, director of community programmes at education and grantmaking charity The Harpur Trust in Bedford.

“We are seeing an increasing number of schools in Bedford Borough forging links with local businesses and it doesn’t always have to be about donating equipment or offering financial support or sponsorship.  

“Schools need input from the business community to help deliver a relevant and enriched curriculum where pupils gain an awareness of the world of work.

“Furthermore, business leaders can play an essential role in providing career information and guidance and may also be willing to take pupils on work experience.”

There can be initial challenges in establishing partnerships. Businesses can find it difficult to get a foot in the door whilst many schools are face increasing pressure on their budgets and resources and may simply not have the time or ability to reach out. But there are some positive examples which show how beneficial collaboration can be.  

The Ready 2 Lead Conference at Mark Rutherford School.

Mark Rutherford Upper School is one school which has an outward looking approach.  The school has been developing partnerships for a number of years with a wide range of contacts to draw on to inspire their pupils.  

The school also works in partnership with Bedford School, (part of the Harpur Trust) and together they have generated a number of joint projects, not least the recent Ready2Lead Conference programme which saw sixth form pupils working together from state schools across the borough to solve problems and develop their leadership skills.

The Harpur Trust itself is a grantmaking charity operating in Bedford Borough, which uses its sizeable endowment to support local charities, voluntary groups and over 90% of local schools have benefited in some way or other from the Trust’s support, either through its events programme, grantmaking, free school uniform scheme, Covid-19 Laptop donations or university bursary programme.

The Trust is now reaching out to businesses with a simple message ‘Together we can do so much more’.  To find out about how The Harpur Trust supports Bedford Borough Schools and how you might get involved, email events@harpurtrust.org.uk.


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