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The View from the Staff Room

It’s undoubtedly a labour of love but also a highly rewarding lesson in value-added teaching.

And despite the challenges – volunteering means giving up their own free time, juggling work and deadlines – teachers who support students in the Future Assets contest are unanimous that the benefits are unsurpassed. 

“It’s the most valuable initiative we have ever taken part in,” says Hannah Fox, Principal Teacher of Business and Computing Faculty, North Berwick High School, whose pupils were runners up in this year’s junior category.

“The students are genuinely getting the experience of working inside investment firms and this is something that you really don’t get with other initiatives.”

That pretty much sums it up from the perspective of teachers who agree the competition opens up opportunities that many girls would not ever have contemplated or thought possible.

“The competition provides brilliant insight into the industry that people don’t really ever think about,” acknowledges Angela Herd, Faculty PT Business, Computing and Languages, Alva Academy, whose students were runners up in the senior category this year. “Finance is never a first choice for girls so this opens up so many opportunities for them.”

Elaine Cuthbertson, Business Teacher at Hillend High School concurs: “The investment management industry is one that is predominantly male-dominated and in addition to this there are so many pupils who don’t even know about it. There is also even a lack of knowledge about the opportunities available amongst the business education teachers so this competition not only benefits the students but also the teachers too.”

Her views are echoed by Kate Gascoigne, Business Management, Prestonlodge High School: “Investment Management is not a career that everyone understands or even considers to be a realistic possibility for themselves. The truth is that is it most definitely a tangible possibility for everyone because there are so many transferable skills required. It’s also so great for the girls to be able to put on their university applications and has given them so much confidence.”

In addition to opening their eyes to an alternative career path, teachers say the competition encourages youngsters to develop a whole set of new skills from communication to data analysis, research, financial awareness, leadership and teamwork.

“Team building is definitely a core skill here,” says Angela Herd. “They all have really different skill sets focused on different areas and they all came to the table with their own individual expertise. They also learned a lot about time management and it was great to see how enthusiastic they were about doing extra work on this outwith school hours. It also taught them a great deal about the extra responsibilities of meeting important deadlines.”

So how did the teachers themselves find the experience and how well were they supported by their schools?

“We need more support from schools to ease the pressure on our time as teachers so that we have more scope to invest in these opportunities with the girls,” Elaine Cuthbertson says frankly.  “I think we need to start to look at bringing in educational initiatives that support opportunities like this more. Currently, there is not enough time available for opportunities like this. Time, or lack thereof, is always a factor to consider in education. There are so many challenges with this in the sector and we just need to balance passion and time with the resources available to us.”

For Angela Herd the lack of time was also a big challenge: “However we were able to push through as there was so much enthusiasm for the competition from everyone so we did what we needed to, to make it work.

But as Hannah Fox says: “I help with this because it is so enjoyable. My class will mentor the next year’s entrants and I really like this because we are creating a legacy as well as supporting so many opportunities for the girls.”

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