PNC Academy

The Context

PNC have extensive direct experience of the issues employers face in selecting post 16 learning partners to work with on in-house talent development programmes. It has learned that it is critical to pick very carefully and seek out one that understands the business is the customer in the relationship. It is essential that post 16 learning partner understand the business it is working with so they can provide as much bespoke as possible.

PNCs experience is that post 16 learning institutions suffer from the same restrictions as many other areas of education i.e. trying to deliver as much as possible with not enough resources. Generic module delivery may work for some of their customers but by no means for all businesses.

Unfortunately, this often means businesses have, traditionally had to be prepared to quite literally take their business elsewhere (at a sensible juncture) when they find the service provided is not working out for its learners. They also often have to spend too much time managing their post 16 learning partners and this can also lead to the relationship failing.

PNC has discovered businesses need to be wary of partners who promise everything and deliver very little. The time spent pushing them to deliver what they promise tends to be far outweighed by the value they deliver.

For these reasons, PNC seeks to deliver an alternative, business-led post 16 learning product that is highly complimentary with partner business need – one that is mutually beneficial to all stakeholders in these relationships and therefore sustainable in the future – The PNC Academy 16-19 Free School.

The Project

"Inspiring employability through education."

PNC are an innovative, industry leading consultancy partnership, who are committed to equipping young people with skills for future employment. PNC services a wide range of corporate and SME clients and it is a logical extension of their skills-based competencies to sponsor a free school. PNC Academy will be a 16-19 free school focusing on Engineering Mechatronics, Coding and Health and Wellbeing. The key partners in the Project are Nick Rance – Lead Proposer, Adrian Miller – Principal Designate and Robert Labe as Chair of the Proposer Project Group

The curriculum will be flexible, but based round the pedagogy of progression into paid employment. Qualifications such as A-levels, technical levels and diplomas will be a means to an end for progression. Pathways will constitute the curriculum and they will contain constituent elements such as English, Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Computing. These pathways will be focused on developing employability skills and will have 3 common elements i.e. an academic component, a work-placement component and a Health and Wellbeing component. The balance of these components within the pathway will depend on the chosen focus i.e. Health and Wellbeing will be 60% H&WB and 40% academic. An Engineering Mechatronics focus will be 60% Engineering and 40 H&WB.

The overall aim of the curriculum is to give young people a set of employability skills that will enable them to become life-long learners and therefore a positive benefit to society.

Delivery of this vision depends upon active engagement of employers. PNC Academy has a central vision for its ethos of employer engagement. To enable this to happen, the following criteria are essential to the PNC Academy free school bid:

  • Existing relationships with Tier 1 and 2 and SMEs
  • Bespoke curricular provision
  • Inter-personal skill development for students
  • Performance monitoring
  • Agile / responsive – we are the customer and we expect to have a proper business relationship
  • Highest possible quality teaching provision
  • Understand our business

The learning atmosphere of the free school will be one where the students and staff are expected to be concordant with the ethos rather than compliant. A “can-do” attitude will be expected and high standards of attendance, dress code and behaviour will be the norm, due to the learning environment created by the curriculum. This is an institution that will naturally attract staff because central to the governance of the free school will be its PNC founding members of which recruitment and resourcing is a key competence of the Business.

Quality assurance is a founding principle of the PNC approach. This will permeate the free school. The governance, Principal Designate and senior management of the Academy will be inducted in the founding principles of PNC.

Through its involvement with the voluntary sector, PNC can bring skills, knowledge and experience with regard to mental and emotional health issues, including experience of undertaking mentoring of young people in difficult circumstances. PNC’s health and wellbeing programs address issues such as cyber bullying, abusive situations, online exploitation and coping with stress, emotional/mental first aid and peer support systems.

PNC is a specialist consultancy business that supplies comprehensive human resource management solutions to diverse businesses and will expect the free school to operate within efficient and effective, compliant and appropriate policies and procedures. Employees will be performance managed to achieve their full potential, equipping them to ensure the same for learners.

PNC is focused on developing centres of excellence for business, which leads to the Academy developing a focus on training apprenticeships. Integral to the curriculum will be an apprenticeship pathway, which will cover all subject specialisms and aimed at closing the skills gap in engineering, science and health and wellbeing. The Board of PNC consists of Human Resource Managers who have direct experience of setting up successful apprenticeship academies in conjunction with the Skills Funding Agency.

To conclude, the vision of the PNC Academy Free School is to bring together employers, manufacturing industry (Tier 1 and 2), SMEs, universities and colleges of further education and the Health and Wellbeing sector to give 16-19 year olds a set of unique skills, focused on progression, enabling them to play a positive role in society.

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Adrian Miller

Adrian has worked in all levels of Senior Management in a range of UK Secondary Schools, and most recently was Principal of STEM Tech City Academy , a 16 – 19 Free School in London. This experience has enabled Adrian to develop a strategic vision for education management which puts the student at the centre of the process with a focus on encouraging employability skills developed in partnership with local and national employers.

Adrian has a national profile in STEM Education, with involvement in the Perkins Review, E4E Engineering , represententation to the Education Select Committee, and organising study tour of British Columbia for the Edge Foundation.

Adrian passionately believes in making education work for the student by promoting employability skills and technology learning.


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