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An initiative partnership aimed at bolstering employability skills of students has been launched at a Suffolk secondary school.

Thomas Gainsborough School has teamed up with local business, Addvantage 4U, to offer essential employability skills such as resilience, perseverance, motivation, ambition, teamwork, problem-solving, tolerance and respect.

The scheme, which is sponsored by Sudbury-based opticians Wardale Williams, will also play a pivotal role in academic achievements and overall life success.

Kenny Alexander, head of Thomas Gainsborough School’s sixth form said: “We are really excited about this opportunity to further strengthen our fantastic careers offer and links with local employers, and to enable our students to be as prepared as possible for their next steps.”

The pilot programme will run until April 2024 with 19 lower sixth students taking part. They will all receive individual reports and a tailored personal skills development programme.

The partnership is aimed to further strengthen the bond between the school and local businesses with many TGS students already working in part-time jobs or having secured permanent positions upon graduation.

Jonathan Foreman, owner and managing director of Wardale Williams, said: “As a former pupil of Thomas Gainsborough, I experienced first-hand the challenges young people face when navigating the complex path to success.

“In the 1970s, we did not have the privilege of mentorship and guidance to develop crucial decision-making skills. Today, as a 60-year-old business owner, I am delighted to give back and make a difference in the lives of the next generation of our local community by sponsoring this programme.

“The impact of this initiative goes beyond the classroom. It has the potential to shape a generation of future leaders, innovators and professionals who are effective and happy.”

Mark van der Lande CBE, co-founder and director of Addvantage 4U added: “We are delighted to be working with TGS on this pilot.

“By developing the human skills which employers consistently say effective employees need, this programme will help TGS pupils succeed at school, employment and life as well as support local employers and promote TGS by further improving its careers offer to students.

“It will also help to make Sudbury an even more attractive place in which to run a business.”