Prince helps pupils see life on the factory floor
SCHOOLCHILDREN are being taught about the importance of Stoke-on-Trent's ceramics heritage in a scheme backed by Prince Charles.
The Steelite Industrial Cadets programme – Art on a Plate – has been launched at the pottery firm's Middleport factory.
It will see 12 pupils given an insight into the running of the business over the eight-week programme.
The 12 to 14-year-olds – who attend Burslem's Haywood Engineering College and the Co-operative Academy of Brownhills, in Tunstall – will also create a piece of art for the outside of the factory.
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Steelite Human Resources manager Louise Griffin, who is overseeing the project, said: "Pottery is enormously important to the city's heritage but it's something that children just don't know about anymore.
"As a community we should be very proud of the industry and hopefully the programme will drive this home.
"On factory tours the pupils will see how the pots are designed, made and marketed.
"They will even go to a local restaurant which uses our products.
"This initiative is brilliant because it's almost going back to basics. Steelite is developing its apprentice programme so perhaps these pupils will one day work for us."
The Industrial Cadets scheme was launched this week by Prince Charles.
It aims to raise awareness of local opportunities in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, develop employability skills and raise aspirations of young people.
Each pupil will spend a day or half a day at the factory every week.
Mrs Griffin added: "The company has undergone a huge transformation in recent years.
"We are very family orientated here, but this is a huge international business so we will be teaching entrepreneurial skills too."
The children will also design a permanent art display for the human resources building at the entrance to the factory. They will unveil their work to special guests during a question and answer session with Steelite chief executive Kevin Oakes at the end of the programme.
Amy Clarke, learning support manager for the Co-operative Academy of Brownhills, said: "This is a brilliant chance for the students to get an insight into one of the city's biggest companies. They're all very enthusiastic and creative so I'm sure they will come up with something brilliant for the artwork.
"Many of them applied for the programme because they're passionate about art but it will also be a great chance for them to learn about a big business." Haywood Engineering College pupil Christian Bailey, aged 13, said: "I applied for the course because I wanted to experience the workplace and find out more about Steelite.
"I've been really impressed with what I've seen, I had no idea it was such a big company."