A vital part of our community involvement is working with local schools and other education providers. It is the skills and experience which local young people develop at school which will equip them to access the opportunities at Canary Wharf, whether that be getting a job on the Wharf itself, working for a company or organisation which supplies or supports Canary Wharf, or just living and working in an exciting and diverse borough like Tower Hamlets.
In addition to major ad-hoc projects, our educational work is divided into three main programmes: The Tower Hamlets and Canary Wharf Further Education Trust, The Canary Wharf Achievement Fund and our Schools Programme.
The Tower Hamlets and Canary Wharf Further Education Trust
At the very start of the Canary Wharf development in 1990, an endowment of £2.5m was set aside to fund grants for local people to access further and higher education. This Trust is now jointly administered by representatives of Canary Wharf Group and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, paying approximately £250,000 each year to local people who need additional support to access college, university or professional courses. Thousands of local young people and adult learners have benefited over the last 20 years, and the Trust continues to grow so it can help more people every year.
The Canary Wharf Achievement Fund
The Canary Wharf Achievement Fund of £50,000 a year was set up in 1997 to support a series of initiatives designed to improve local educational results through innovative programmes. Under the guidance of Philippa Dodds John, our education consultant from 1997-2009, and working with experts in the local Borough, Central Government and the Institute of Education, the fund has pioneered work which has gone on to become national standard practice.
Among the exciting projects carried out through this programme have been:
After School Clubs – Canary Wharf started and funded a programme of after school clubs on the Isle of Dogs, involving children in after school sports and hobbies as well as providing a safe and quiet environment for homework. This helped inform national policy.
Getting Ready for Reading and Talking Time - we funded these two extremely effective programmes helping pre-school children to learn to read before they start school, and assisting with communication skills in school, both of these programmes are now recommended practice for the National Literacy Strategy. This year we have funded a pilot project supervised by Professor Christopher Donlan at UCL into the role of Language on Numeracy.
CommTAP.org – Canary Wharf Group helped develop and still supports TAP - a structured web based resource for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators to support better inclusion for children with language & communication difficulties. More than half the Borough schools have used this resource which delivers teaching materials and lesson plans direct to the Co-ordinator’s desk.
Singing Playgrounds - The sound of music can now be heard in eleven primary school playgrounds in the Borough thanks to an innovative programme developed by Birmingham based choir Ex Cathedra and funded by Canary Wharf Group . Children take responsibility as Song Leaders to teach both staff and children traditional action songs and games which now enrich their playground environment as well as teaching everyone musical skills. The result is lots of fun for over 2000 children as well as lots of learning!
A special feature of the programme involves the leading children, some as young as 7 years old, in a very grown up role to ensure that solitary children find friends through the singing games. A teacher co-ordinator and lunchtime supervisors support the children and learn together.
Each summer, all 220 children will join together for a show case of their work at the East Wintergarden. We hope this choir will be the first of many such groups building up to a large Borough-wide children’s choir perhaps as large as a thousand voices.
The Schools Programme
In the very early days of the Canary Wharf project during the late 1980s, local groups of school children were brought on visits to the Wharf, learning about the dangers of the construction site and also about the future opportunities which the finished Wharf would provide. They were often accompanied on these visits by a young security guard named Dale Pile, who became one of the “friendly faces” of Canary Wharf.
In 2008 after a variety of jobs around the company, Dale Pile re-joined the Public Affairs team as our first dedicated Education Liaison Officer and re-started a programme of visits to Canary Wharf for local schools. Dale takes students around the estate and into the main Canary Wharf Group Boardroom for questions about what the future will bring, and offers advice to youngsters about their future employment and education choices.
Dale also goes out to visit local schools, giving talks about the Wharf and supporting individual school projects which develop the skills and aspirations of young people. In 2010 we published our first Schools Pack, including a specially commissioned short history book about the Docks and Canary Wharf, aimed at the 7-11 year old age group and a “Through The Ages” lesson plan which can be downloaded from this website.
Ad-hoc support for educational projects
Here are just a handful of the major projects we have supported over recent years:
- Teach First – Canary Wharf Group helped set up this project which gives high-flying graduates from leading Universities the opportunity to teach for a fixed period before going on to other professional careers. From humble beginnings this is now a major national charity with hundreds of teachers and schools, which has attracted funding from central government. George Iacobescu was the joint founding Chairman and the Charity is still accommodated by Canary Wharf as an in-kind donation to their work.
- Careers Academies UK – Canary Wharf Group has supported the development of Careers Academies. These specialist centres of high-level business education within schools and colleges are a project championed by Citi, the major international bank based on the Wharf. Each year we welcome 6 Careers Academy interns into our offices to see what we can teach them about business – and what they can teach us! We also host the Careers Academy school Conference each year.
- University of East London Art School Travel Bursaries – after launching the University of East London’s Art School in 2008, George Iacobescu set up a travel bursary scheme for young artists to visit the great inspirational art centres of the world. In its first year, UEL students travelled to Beijing, along the old Silk Route through central Asia, and to New York, India and Florence to find inspiration for their work. The scheme provides grants for students working in textiles, fine art, sculpture, photography and video as well as architecture.
- London Enterprise Challenge – each year Canary Wharf plays hosts to the budding entrepreneurs of the future with the final of the London Enterprise Challenge, a schools business competition. School students from all over the capital battle it out for a prestigious prize and the chance to see their business ideas presented to senior executives.
- Culloden Primary School – Canary Wharf Group contributed £120,000 towards a new building at the School along with expert construction and project management support, securing an additional £1m from government.
- Bygrove Primary School – Canary Wharf supported an initiative by a pupil to put up a shelter in the playground for wet weather, so children have somewhere to stay dry but still have some fresh air.
- George Green’s School Café Vert – The Canary Wharf Contractors Fund and Isle of Dogs Community Foundation came together to build a new £50,000 teaching kitchen and café for the students at George Green’s school on the Isle of Dogs. As well as providing space for after school activities and social events, the café is teaching young people about healthy eating and transferable skills in retail, cooking and restaurant management.
- Manorfield Primary School – in 2006 Canary Wharf Group helped fund a residential school trip to the Isle of Wight for year 6 pupils. The students and teachers had raised half the funds themselves. Among the 45 10-year old children who benefited, some had never left Tower Hamlets before.
- The David Beckham Academy – 8 primary schools from Tower Hamlets were given the opportunity to spend a day at the Academy courtesy of Canary Wharf Group in 2009. They took part in classroom based activities as well as receiving top class coaching from the Academy coaches.
- Eleanor Smith School – we have pledged to support this special needs school for 3-years on their “Moving Forward” programme. This programme aims to help students to move back into mainstream schools by working on areas such as improving social skills and managing feelings.
- Give your car the day off – working in partnership with LBTH and supported by the Mayor of London and TFL, this project encouraged students to cycle to school promoting an environmentally friendly means of transport and the healthy benefits of exercise.