Tuesday, April 24th, 2018.

Virgin Trains employees are being encouraged to bring their business skills into Excelsior Academy and learn about school life as the first class partnership goes from strength to strength.

Excelsior students and teachers presented a host of volunteering opportunities at the Newcastle all-through academy to Virgin Trains staff at their York headquarters.

Head Boy James Stephenson and fellow Excelsior College student Muminah Ahmed won widespread praise for their pitch to Virgin staff alongside college assistant principal Deon Krishnan and teacher Peter Stead.

Virgin Trains and Business in the Community (BITC) are business enterprise advisors to Excelsior Academy, helping develop career opportunities for students.

The partnership is now being widened to encourage Virgin Trains staff to bring their business acumen to Excelsior as volunteers, gaining valuable knowledge of academic life into the bargain.

“We spoke to Virgin Trains employees and encouraged them to volunteer in a host of areas, such as working with school staff on skills development,” said Deon.

“This might include taking staff into their business or giving them the opportunity to have a mentor or attend our in-house training.

“The volunteering programme includes problem solving in areas such as leadership, management and strategic planning. This might include work shadowing and coaching or mentoring for students needing extra support.

“Virgin staff could help us navigate the changes within our building structures or governance frameworks – working collaboratively with our departments.

“As usual, our students from the college were a credit. People commented on how eloquent they were.”

The partnership could also include Virgin Trains supporting the curriculum by offering vocational learning placements for pupils and supporting subjects like Maths and IT, bringing real life challenges and solutions into the classroom.

It could also look at creating innovative projects with small cohorts of pupils to transform their lives through girls’ achievement groups, fashion shows, role models, primary transition and public speaking.

An incentive scheme running with Virgin Trains at Excelsior Academy is having a major impact – in some cases potentially life changing.

Excelsior College student Rudeyna Nashih was rewarded for her academic work ethic and attendance with return tickets on the East Coast mainline. Her tickets have allowed her to attend a university interview in London.