Pioneering Edmiston & UKSA programme photo 1

Pioneering Edmiston & UKSA programme

Sea.Change Foundation helps disadvantaged youngsters to chart a new course for the future

Strive, believe, achieve. Three words that provide the bedrock of the Tile Cross Academy’s ethos and echoed by Edmiston and UKSA, which inspires and supports children and young people to broaden horizons through life-enhancing water-based adventures.

This month, UKSA welcomed the first students from the Academy to undertake its pioneering Sea.Change Foundation course. The inspirational five-day residential programme is designed to give youngsters from 14-17 the opportunity to experience a wide range of water-based activities alongside classroom-based sessions, where they learn more about career options in the maritime sector. As a result of taking part in the programme, the Tile Academy has become a finalist in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2021.

Thirty Academy students took part in the programme which was funded by Edmiston. The Edmiston Foundation was launched in October 2020 by Edmiston to address diversity within the superyacht industry; specifically providing young people, especially those in the most underrepresented and disadvantaged groups, the opportunity to forge a career within the maritime sector.

The postcode of the Birmingham-based Academy places the school in the top three percent for deprivation in England and of the cohort of students that attended the course, over 80 percent live in postcodes in the top 10 percent for deprivation. The ward the school is in, is one of the 150 ‘Left Behind’ areas identified by the Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion and the attainment levels for children in this area are lower than average and the gap is widening.

Ben Willows, CEO of UKSA comments: “The Social Mobility Commission’s 2019 report ‘An Unequal Playing Field: Extra-Curricular Activities, Soft Skills and Social Mobility’ clearly demonstrates that participation in activities beyond the classroom has great added value in a child’s development. Not having access to or participating in these activities is a significant restraint on social mobility. At UKSA, our programmes offer a positive and enriching experience for young people, not only as positive educational outcomes but also offering the possibility for developing a wider set of skills beyond the qualifications obtained from school."

He continues: “We are delighted to have welcomed thirty students from Tile Cross Academy as our first school to complete the programme. So many children and young people were already missing out on life-changing opportunities because schools, local authorities and parents simply couldn’t afford to pay for them, and the pandemic has unfortunately only exacerbated this situation. Now, more than ever, programmes like the Sea.Change Foundation which help to prepare young people for the workplace are vital. A reduction in education, employment and training opportunities as a result of the pandemic will hit the most disadvantaged young people the hardest.”

The programme, which was originally trialled with young people from the Isle of Wight in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, ensures there are no barriers to learning and offers funding options from UKSA’s partners to bring young people as many opportunities as possible to build a career whilst improving their social skills, confidence and wellbeing.

Neil Mackintosh, head of social mobility at Tile Cross Academy, comments: “Opportunities such as the Sea.Change Foundation at UKSA drive social mobility. The funding allows students to have the same opportunities as their peers and it has expanded their horizons to an industry that they would have otherwise not considered. The change in them is remarkable with a notable increase in confidence and attitude.”  

Echoing Ben Willows and Neil Mackintosh, Jamie Edmiston, CEO of Edmiston and partner behind the Inclusivity programme, adds: “The aim of the initiative is to address diversity within the marine industry by delivering an education programme that allows young people from all walks of life to have equal career opportunities. Young people from disadvantaged communities are less likely to participate in outdoor and maritime activities, so by setting up the foundation we’re making yacht careers accessible for all. With their skills and new-found confidence, my hope is that these students will be the yacht designers, captains or yacht brokers of tomorrow.”


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