This entry was shortlisted in the 2012 Peer Award “Financial Awareness for the Community” category
The Financial Education and Employability Programme
A structured programme of enterprise education activities aimed at schools
In 2005, THEBP and Bank of America Merrill Lynch launched the Financial Education and Employability Programme in three schools. A three-year programme for all students aged 12-15, its aim was to raise aspirations and equip students with the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed for employment and financial responsibility. 4,500 students have gone through the programme, working with 2,000 of the bank’s business volunteers. A work-related qualification equivalent to a GCSE grade B has been created, which 700 students have passed. The first cohort of 20 tracked Alumni now study at 1994 and Russell Group universities.
Teachers, students, the local authority, Government and Ofsted have all endorsed the programme’s effectiveness in raising aspirations, teaching personal finance and bringing the world of work to life for students. All schools have significantly improved their GCSE grades since 2005: 141% (Swanlea); 100% (Mulberry); 72% (Bow) in comparison to the national average increase of 27%. Swanlea students gained 100% A*-C GCSE Business Studies for four consecutive years. Since the programme commenced, Swanlea and Mulberry Schools have achieved the highest Ofsted rank of ‘Outstanding’. In a recent Ofsted inspection, Bow School’s partnership with business and THEBP was ranked ‘exceptional’.
The first structured programme of its kind, it is the largest of its type in the UK. Activities are embedded into the school calendar and each learning activity builds on the previous. The three-year course is fully inclusive, regardless of ability. 500 new students enrol each year. A national qualification has been made available to benefit the schools. Described as unique in its scale and depth, the programme has been delivered by 2,000 Bank of America Merrill Lynch employees from across the bank at all levels, from the President and his leadership team to the bank’s in-house suppliers.
Partnering with three secondary schools was an ambitious project when the bank already had an existing long-term commitment with a primary school. 2,000 students participate in the programme annually and 60 events need to be managed and supported by volunteers. During one week in 2005, 500 young people visited the bank’s offices, which required approximately 100 volunteers. The costs of venue hire, catering, transport, teacher-cover, photography and goody bags, on top of programme management costs, were significant. Over time, changes were made to the programme to make it more sustainable and replicable.
Employee pride and satisfaction are key benefits: 100% surveyed said it improved their wellbeing; increased their understanding of others and their awareness of social issues; 90% said that they would talk more positively about the bank as a result of the programme. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has received ten high profile awards, including the National Example of Excellence for Education from BITC and the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award which have enhanced brand reputation amongst clients, vendors, peers, employees and the local community. The bank is currently making the programme’s educational resources freely available online for use by other employers.
Camilla Fletcher, Head of EMEA Philanthropy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch