Pupils tackle Next challenges

Members of the student council in the new Step Back facility, kitted out by Next.
Members of the student council in the new Step Back facility, kitted out by Next.

Clothing and homeware retailer Next has teamed up with Minsthorpe Community College to give pupils a taste of the world of work.

The company has been giving students at the South Elmsall-based secondary school real-life projects to get involved in.

Year 7 and Year 8 pupils were asked to come up with design ideas for a new uniform for the school and Next is now looking to manufacture their creations.

Elsewhere, science, technology, engineering and maths pupils have been tasked with creating a logistics programme to allow engineers at the company to service automated equipment without shutting down all the machines.

Minsthorpe principal Ray Henshaw said: “Our relationship with Next is an example of how schools and businesses can work together and benefit equally from the partnership.

“The problems that Next Distribution Ltd set our students are problems that they are actually grappling with as an organisation. Sometimes, students are able to come up with innovative solutions because they come at it from a totally different perspective.

“Next employees benefit from working with our students as well because the best way to show that you understand something is to teach it.

“Minsthorpe aims to help make its students work-ready and there is no better way to do this than by immersing them into the world of work.”

Next has also helped to re-design and decorate a building at the college, which will be used to provide tailor-made education for pupils struggling in mainstream school.

The provision, called Step Back, will launch next month. It will include work-related and life-skills lessons as well as health and fitness education.

Next sent in a team of designers to revamp the space ready for its new use. They supplied furnishings and equipment including settees, chairs and kitchen utensils for the centre.

Mr Henshaw said: “The college is extremely grateful to Next for their generous offer and intend to invite representatives from the company to a formal opening ceremony.

“This facility has huge potential. The students have their own kitchen and will be able to prepare and cook food together and enjoy it as a social experience. They will continue with their studies but also learn some valuable life skills as well.”