Financial Education and Employability Programme ‘Presentation Skills Competition’
Presentation Skills – enhancing life chances of inner city school children

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Organisations such as the CBI and The Sutton Trust highlight the importance of developing students’ presentation skills whilst at school. Presentation skills are a key factor in nhancing social mobility and help state school students access top universities and professional careers. The Financial Education and Employability Programme, supported by BofAML in association with THEBP, reaches 2,000 students per year, aged 12-19, across three state schools to develop their work-related skills. The Presentation Skills Competition provides 14-year-old students with expert coaching on how to present confidently. There is an opportunity for those who excel to compete against students from different schools.

The three participating schools have improved their GCSE grades since 2005 at a rate of up to six times the increase in the national average, and students taking part in the presentation skills competition have gone on to study at Russell Group and 1994 Group Universities. Students and teachers describe how taking part has helped build students’ skills, confidence, self-belief and aspirations. BofAML employee volunteers, who support the programme, also derive benefit from their involvement, such as improved leadership and communication skills, a sense of fulfilment and internal networking opportunities.

Although many programmes for schools concentrate on one particular development area, the presentation skills competition is one of 20 activities, which are tailored for each year group of students involved and delivered by bank volunteers. As well as improving participants’ financial and business acumen it is in the teaching of soft skills, such as how to communicate effectively, that sets this programme apart. In order to scale up the benefits of the programme, the materials are being made freely available online for use by other employers to engage more businesses with more schools through the bank’s sharing of best practice.[/one_half_last]

We have learned that, although inner city students have the ability to excel, they often lack the confidence to fulfil their potential. Schools tell us that embedding soft skills, such as the ability to present well, early in the programme has led to better outcomes both in vocational work and further study. The competition has developed over the years and now attracts volunteers including senior BofAML executives, business partners, journalists and government ministers. We have also found that students respond better to developing presentations if they are kept to a tight timeframe and topic as it enables them to focus.

Students who have participated in the competition have taken the opportunity to use the skills that they have acquired to win other debating and speaking awards. However, the major impact has been increased levels of aspiration, academic achievement and access to top universities. BofAML volunteers say that their involvement in the programme has improved their wellbeing, increased their understanding of others and their awareness of social issues. Increasingly we are involving the bank’s supply chain and clients in delivery, and aim to inspire others by making the programme’s resources freely available.[/one_half_last] Speaker
Camilla Fletcher
Head of EMEA Community Engagement, Corporate Social Responsibility
Bank of America Merrill Lynch