Enrolling in The Real World Learning Programme

As part of our #DeeperPurpose and mission to champion social mobility, Grayce recently enrolled in School21’s innovative alternative to work experience – The Real World Learning Programme. 

Here at Grayce, we know the importance of providing young people with practical, real-world experience to help them develop new skills – it’s what our Development Programmes are all about! So, when an opportunity came to partner with School21 on the ‘Real World Learning Program’ our community was keen to get involved. Grayce’s partnership was led by Grayce Analysts, Michael Priest and Chloe McKay, along with HQ support and sponsorship from Senior Delivery Manager, Natalie Taylor, and Service Delivery Director, Miranda Di Rosa. 

The Real World Learning Programme gives students the opportunity to work on projects and solve real problems for organisations. In their own words, Real World Learning Projects “provide both student and their host workplace with something that is more meaningful and authentic than traditional work experience.” 

The aim is that, through participating, students will be able to apply theoretical knowledge, develop their skills, and build self-confidence. The project supports one of Grayce’s key objectives, to actively champion social mobility, by providing young people with real and challenging work experience. By focusing on real-world scenarios, students can see the tangible results of their work, all while receiving coaching and mentoring on competences and attributes that are key to success in the workplace. 

A diverse mix of organisations are already involved in the programme, including John Lewis and Bow Arts. For our part, Grayce worked with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust to allow four, year 12 students to take part in a 12-week pro-bono consulting project.  

The project 

The four students were presented with a problem statement from The Christie; “How can we attract younger and more ethnically diverse members?”. To begin, the students held a requirements gathering session with board members. Following this, they were given a month to prepare their solution before presenting it back to those same stakeholders. 

With support from Grayce Analysts, the students worked together to divide tasks, ensuring responsibility for the end solution was shared and each student had the opportunity to lead an area. These tasks covered key change management skills, including, preparing questions for requirements gathering, competitor research, workshop facilitation, documenting the “as is” approach, and formulating a final proposal. 

Parallel to this, the students worked with Grayce Analysts on confidence activities, presentation skills, and independent research, mirroring our own holistic, 70:20:10 approach to learning that is the cornerstone of each of our Development Programmes. 

The impact 

The Christie was incredibly impressed with the recommendations presented by the students, which included the introduction of a cultural celebration day, youth council, and social media awareness campaign. Grayce Practice Director and Board Member for The Christie, Sam Vickerman said, “Myself and my Christie colleagues were blown away by the outcome of the project and the ideas the team shared with us, and we will be taking all of them forward to help us increase membership and engagement at the hospital. The enthusiasm, curiosity, and commitment to the project was so inspiring!”  

For the students who took part, seeing their ideas adopted by senior stakeholders was an empowering experience, one student’s feedback was, “I have enjoyed the way I have improved my communication skills. I learnt to work with adults, and this was something I looked forward to each week. The sessions were always fun, and I felt like we genuinely made a difference.” 

Finally, for the Grayce Analysts involved, whilst the programme saw them providing mentorship and coaching, it also challenged them to think in new ways and adapt how they work. L2 Analyst and Chair of our Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Chloe McKay reflects, “As an Analyst, this programme has been an amazing opportunity for me to develop my leadership and management skills. As well as giving the students theoretical knowledge and tools to execute their project, we also worked with them, on communication, confidence, and leadership – all critical enablers of success in the workplace.”

Grayce Senior Delivery Manager, Natalie Taylor, worked with our Analysts to deliver the programme in line with our core values. Natalie aimed to “shift the focus of the programme to the student’s development, leaving aside lectures on how great we all were or asking them to complete admin jobs which can happen with traditional work experience programmes.” Natalie says, “Empowering young people with the knowledge that they can pursue any career path they choose is at the heart of the programme and seeing the students grow in confidence week-on-week has been my personal highlight!” 

This year’s collaboration was a pilot for Grayce, but given the profound impact our partnership has had on students and Analysts alike, we’re excited to launch our next cohort later this year and cannot wait to see some of the brilliant work produced by our next set of students! 

Grayce regularly partners with external organisations that further our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social mobility.

Read more about our partners here

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