A major bank has pledged to help nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs with the launch of a programme aimed at getting its staff involved in the effort to raise standards in Yorkshire’s schools.
Lloyds Banking Group, which employs 6,000 people in Calderdale, has chosen to work in the region because school performance lags behind the rest of the country.
Its programme StandingOut aims to help people within its 13,000 strong workforce in Yorkshire to make a difference in local schools.
It is hoped that top banking staff will improve the management of academies in Yorkshire. The bank is looking for employees to become school governors and for senior members of staff to take on non-executive director roles at multi-academy trusts.
Lloyds will also support mentoring and volunteering opportunities in schools, and provide free financial effectiveness training to school business managers.
It has been welcomed by an academy chief executive who has been tasked with producing a strategy to raise school standards in the North of England.
Sir Nick Weller, who is leading the Government’s Northern Schools Powerhouse strategy, said: “The focus on improving governance is important because it will improve the capacity of academies in the region.”
He said that good governance can ensure that academies do not grow too quickly and that public money is spent properly.
Sir Nick, who is the chief executive of Bradford-based Dixons Academies chain was chosen to lead the Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy by the former Chancellor George Osborne.
His appointment was announced at this year’s Budget, and he was tasked with producing a report on how schools in the North could replicate the success seen in London.
Lloyds StandingOut scheme was launched at a discussion on how to raise Yorkshire’s school standards with Sir Nick and the Institute for Public Policy Research (North).
The event at Farnley Academy in Leeds was hosted by Lloyds Banking Group’s regional ambassador and the Halifax Community Bank’s managing director, Russell Galley.
Mr Galley said the bank was committed to the region and wanted to improve the skills of its future workforce. He added the bank had decided to pull together its support for schools into one strategy and had chosen Yorkshire to launch it in due to the challenges faced by the region.
He said: “Lloyds Banking Group knows that education is a key driver for helping people, businesses and communities thrive. It is one of the core pillars of our Helping Britain Prosper Plan through which we have committed to invest in and help stimulate social mobility.”
He told The Yorkshire Post that senior Lloyds staff would provide leadership skills and experience of managing “culture change” to multi-academy trusts which are expanding.
Across England’s nine regions, Yorkshire and the Humber has the lowest number of pupils in good or outstanding schools, according to Ofsted reports and the lowest number of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at above grade C level.
A recent report on the North of England’s schools from IPPR North identified building capacity through multi-academy trusts as one area which needed addressing.