The spring term ended on a positive note for students of Budmouth Academy when they won the national finals of the Aspirations Employability Diploma Awards, held in West London before the Easter break.

The scheme, devised by Aspirations Academies Trust, seeks to develop workplace skills through project work with local employers posing real world problems for teams to solve. The best project from each school is put forward to the finals.

Competing against five other teams from schools within the Aspirations Academies Trust the winning Year 12 team, Rebekah Rusu, Hollie Tidswell, Ellie Jones and Isaac Martin, had partnered with Dorset County Hospital, on a challenge to improve patient experience during long term hospital stays.

Their presentation to judges from business and industry impressed with the scope of its research and use of technology to solve problems they’d identified. In summing up, Head Judge, James Pomeroy, commented on the confidence and professionalism with which the team had delivered their findings, and declared that the vote had been unanimous: “An outstanding presentation which spoke to an urgent need and which demonstrated clear understanding of the brief.”

Budmouth Academy has a long standing relationship with Dorset County Hospital and many of its students have taken part in its Young Volunteer Programme. “Supporting the Aspirations Employability scheme seemed like an obvious next step,” said Hannah Robinson, Volunteer and Patient Experience Lead. ‘Working with the students has been fantastic. It’s been lovely to see their enthusiasm and their care for the NHS. I shared the project with colleagues who were so impressed by the research they’d undertaken and the solutions they’d come up with.”

Speaking after the win, Rebekah commented, “It was rather stressful at times because the hospital was under pressure with the strikes, but Hannah managed to come in to see us regularly and her feedback really helped progress our project.”

“We’re really grateful for the support,” said Isaac, “the experience has helped us carry ourselves more professionally and use skills that will be essential in the working world.”

Claire Hughes, AED Lead at Budmouth, is thrilled with the team’s success:

“Working with Hannah and her colleagues has been great and the students have taken a lot away from the experience, developing those important transferable skills that you don’t necessarily get from A Levels and BTechs. We’re always looking for new businesses to work with and I think the success of this project shows how rewarding it can be for all involved.”