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Another day, another knife crime announcement

Apr 17, 2019

The knife crime debate continues.

Following the Downing Street Summit on knife violence on 2nd April, Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, made a speech on the subject in London on Monday. He talked of his childhood experience of growing up in a poor neighbourhood affected by crime and how he avoided a potential life of crime. He didn’t, though, give any consideration to the idea that engaging young people affected by the issue is pivotal in finding answers.

In my opinion, the message from this speech had more to do with confirming a comforting narrative for middle England than seriously seeking to address the root causes and find the solutions to serious youth violence.

The Home Secretary’s announcements on knife crime over recent weeks have had an over-emphasis on enforcement measures, more stop and search and knife crime ASBO’s for children. This is unsurprising; it follows a typical pattern when there is a moral panic around crime.

“Not being able to arrest our way out of serious violence’ has become a mantra for politicians and senior police officers, whilst they simultaneously promote more and more enforcement-led responses and demean the social interventions that are not only necessary but more effective in diverting young people away from crime.

The pattern is clear - talk about addressing the social causes of crime while promoting more punitive measures.

Perhaps a more useful approach would be for politicians to actually speak to – and listen to - young people affected by knife crime. Why not visit youth and community groups where young people, both the victims of knife crime and those who carry knives, talk about their lived experience? Why not visit HMP Feltham YOI, where young people are locked up for 23 hours a day and which was recently the scene of violent incidents?

They may find the answers they need to effectively address the issue of youth violence.

Employment gap between London’s young black and white men narrows

Apr 12, 2019

Recent reports from the Moving on Up project indicate the historically disproportionate employment gap between young black men and white men has narrowed in London. Data collected in 2018 shows that 86% of the young black men in London available for work were in employment; the employment rate for young white men in the same period was 89%.

Moving on Up (MoU) is an employment initiative helping young black men to find jobs and careers in London’s competitive labour market. The project now in phase II is working with leading employers in the Construction, Finance and Digital tech sectors, to measure their hiring practices and inclusion policies. In addition to employers, MoU is collectively working with local councils in London Borough of Brent and Newham to demonstrate the difference targeted support can have on young black men’s progression. MoU is providing funding to support present and new provisions to facilitate the development of young black men. 

The MoU ambition mirrors the Government’s national target to get 20% more ethnic minority people into employment by 2020. The target aims to end the much higher unemployment rates experienced by some ethnic minority groups, including young black men.

January to December 2017

  • The economic activity rate for young black men in London was 37%; the economic activity rate for young white men was 64%.
  • The unemployment rate for young black men in London was 14%; the unemployment rate for young white men was 11%.
  • Under-employment rates are twice as likely to be higher for black employees as for white employees, including for graduates.

 

Moving on Up is a joint £1m initiative from the Trust for London, City Bridge Trust and the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), to increase employment opportunities for young black men in London. BTEG’s mission is to end racial inequality by championing fairness, challenging discrimination and pioneering innovative solutions to empower BAME communities through education, employment and enterprise.

‘Lonely’ Leaders Connecting Through Action Learning

Apr 09, 2019

Loneliness and feelings of isolation are one of the daunting realities of leadership. I have felt this loneliness and have heard the same from many leadership colleagues over the years.

So why is it rarely discussed in professional forums?

Being a leader can mean that you are physically isolated from your colleagues; you may be in a different location or on a different schedule.

Then there is emotional isolation. You have a duty of care to staff, you must deal with HR issues and you have to meet performance targets and funders’ expectations. At the same time you have to consider your own needs - keeping up with your own learning and development, self-management and regulation. However, you may be the only leader in the organisation and have no peers to bounce issues off, share experiences with or even just offload on.

This physical and emotional isolation, whilst having that level of responsibility, can lead to performance, health, and relationship issues.

Having experienced this isolation, I know that meeting regularly with Action Learning Set colleagues, a group of peers who understood the challenges I faced, made a real difference in my ability to lead and supported me in making informed decisions rather than reactive ones. Through a reflective style of questioning, they:

  • challenged my perspective in a safe and respectful way when I wasn’t able to think objectively due to an emotional attachment to the issues
  • assisted me in problem solving and decision making
  • were able to help me generate options that led to solutions

So what is Action Learning?

Action learning is based upon the concept of learning through insightful questioning and reflection on an experience/problem. It is underpinned by Kolb’s Experiential Learning, which suggests there is “no learning without action and no sober and deliberate action without learning”.

Action Learning Sets are small groups, with usually no more than eight ‘Set Members’, who meet regularly, anything from monthly to once a quarter. They focus on an individual’s learning through the study of their own actions and experience. During the meeting each individual has an opportunity to be the ‘presenter’ for a set amount of time, outlining a professional issue or problem that they would like support on. The set members can then ask insightful questions to help the presenter to identify options and generate new ideas and perspectives on the issue. Once the conversation has closed the presenter is given the chance to reflect and summarise the insights and actions they have identified and plan to take forward. The process allows for further check in and exploration in the subsequent meetings to cement learning and create a sense of continued support. (Find out more about the skills and benefits of Action Learning).

Having experience of Action Learning, I have found that it is a powerful tool in supporting the development and maintenance of leadership but possibly more impactful to me is its ability to reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation and create a sense of belonging in a safe, confidential environment of support. When one member shares an issue, problem or goal and another member says those magic words “I am going through that too” or “When I was in that situation I had the same feeling” – there is a profound effect on both the person sharing the issue and others in the set who have been through or are going through similar issues. In that moment the ‘lonely leader’ feels that little less alone because other leaders have similar feelings, thoughts, questions of ability and self-doubt.

Set members are often fearful about sharing for the first time feeling they may be judged. In that moment you could hear a pin drop until someone in the group begins to share, and what they share is something that every member can relate to in one way or another. That scary moment of sharing becomes the thing that unites you as a group, which makes you feel that “I am not alone”. That to me is the most powerful element of Action Learning.

Having a safe space to explore your thoughts by connecting with and being supported by your peers can make you feel more confident in your decision making and more creative in finding solutions. Possibly more vital for leaders, though, is that Action Learning does not just aid learning but creates a sense of belonging and togetherness in what can be an isolating and lonely role. It can help overcome that daunting feeling of ‘leadership loneliness’.

Are you a BAME voluntary or charitable organisation in Ealing?

Mar 06, 2019

                        

Are you a BAME Voluntary or Charitable org in Ealing?

Would you benefit from leadership development and support?

Would you want to know how to work in collaboration to increase sustainability?

If you have answered yes, then the BAME Connectivity Programme might be for you…

The Connectivity Programme is a new project from BTEG that will support and strengthen BAME organisations to be better positioned and structured to survive in the changing landscape and context of the VCS in Ealing. 

BTEG recognises the changes in the voluntary sector over recent years and the implications these have for BAME voluntary and community organisations.  In order for the organisations to be better positioned to work in collaboration, they need to focus on both the infrastructure of their organisations and the leaders within - ensuring that they have the knowledge, attitude and mind-set needed as well as appreciating the value and need to collaborate with others.

The Connectivity programme aims to: 

  • build the skills and capacity of BAME organisations to strengthen their presence and increase sustainability

  • support BAME leaders working for social change

  • support BAME organisations in having a stronger voice and better representation skills.

The project will also promote building relationships between local communities and private, public and mainstream VCS organisations. Please see attached Programme Outline for more information

Read more about the BAME Connectivity Programme or, for more information, contact Simone Williams, Head of the BAME Connectivity Programme: Simone@bteg.co.uk 

Time For City Firms To Reach Out To London’s Young Black Men

Feb 27, 2019

In the most ethnically diverse city in the world, young black men struggle to land good City jobs.

A study by the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) shows that young black men are less likely than young white men to be working in London’s finance sector.

Through in-depth interviews with young black men already working or looking for jobs in the City, the research found that most had experienced barriers, with almost one third citing racial discrimination as the main reason why fewer young black men are working in finance roles.

Employment initiative helps 100s of young black men in London

Feb 27, 2019

An evaluation of a two-year, £1 million project to increase the employment rates for young black men in London was launched on 18 July.

The unemployment rate for young black men is double the rate for young white men, even when they have the same level of qualifications. There are thousands of young black men in London who are available for and actively looking for work. However, it is not an impossible problem to solve. If employers, job centres, support providers and young black men pull together, we can end this inequality.

The MoU Initiative aimed both to directly increase the employment rate amongst young black men in London through supporting targeted interventions; and to generate learning that could influence employers, mainstream employment support providers and funders/commissioners.

Download the evaluation report.

Eradicating the opportunity deficit for black, Asian and minority ethnic young people

Feb 27, 2019

Jeremy Crook, Chief Executive of the Black Training & Enterprise Group (BTEG), wrote the following essay forAll Change: Where next for apprenticeships?,  an essay collection with leading experts setting out ways to improve the quality of apprenticeships and ensure fair access to training. It was published by the Learning and Work Institute:

My organisation, the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), mainly works with black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) young people helping them to make informed decisions about their futures and to understand the importance of effectively demonstrating their individuality and potential to employers.. We still meet far too many young people in school who are unaware of apprenticeships and what this route can offer. Schools provide little careers information about apprenticeships, have virtually no contact with employers and are largely focused on getting good GCSE grades and progressing their students to Sixth Form to do A-levels.

More BAME young people are choosing to stay in education for longer than white young people. We recently asked a group of young foundation degree students, mostly from BAME backgrounds, why they think that is. They told us that more academic qualifications will give them a better chance of success in the labour market. However, the reality is that BAME graduates have higher rates of unemployment than white graduates.

Apprenticeships traditionally provide a route into the labour market for young people without higher level qualifications but have not always been an option that BAME young people have been successful in accessing.

In 2016/17, just 11% of the 494,900 apprenticeship starts in England, were made by ethnic minority people. Compare that with the national population in the 2011 Census when 14.5 % of England’s population were from an ethnic minority. In that year, around one quarter of applications via the government’s Find an Apprenticeship website were from BAME individuals, but the start rate for BAME individuals was half that of white applicants. BAME people remain particularly under-represented on apprenticeships in sectors like engineering and manufacturing, where average earnings tend to be higher, and over-represented in lower earning sectors such as retail.

Recent measures the Government have put in place are welcome:

  • the target to increase the proportion of BAME apprentices by 20% by 2020;

  • the Apprenticeships Diversity Champions Network championing apprenticeships and diversity amongst employers;

  • the Five Cities Project bringing together partners in Greater Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Leicester and London to identify ‘what works’ in improving take up of apprenticeships among under-represented groups including from BAME backgrounds;

  • the National Apprenticeship Service promoting the take-up of apprenticeships among underrepresented groups.

While these initiatives are important, and employer focused, the practical challenges will be keeping a strong focus on ethnicity, showing effective change in the workforce profiles of the companies involved and attracting new companies.

According to Gov.uk, the Diversity Champions Network has only around 40 members, including public sector organisations. In late 2017 Business in the Community launched its first Best Employers for Race List but struggled to list 100 companies in the UK. This shows how far we need to go to see real change. Employers appear far more willing to be proactive, and publicly willing, to sign up to national equality standards around gender and sexual orientation, but are reluctant to embrace ethnicity. Policymakers and diversity practitioners need to face up to this and engage with employers to understand why this is the case.

We consider that successive governments have failed to put enough resources into transforming the way apprenticeship providers and employers address diversity and inclusion, particularly for BAME individuals (and those with learning disabilities).

The need to convince employers to adopt and offer apprenticeships appears to have outweighed the need to make sure that providers deliver fair outcomes and that employers recruit from the whole talent pool. All too often employer-led bodies have associated equality and diversity with generating red tape that only produces extra burdens for businesses, especially for SMEs. It’s time to move away from this outdated response and encourage employers to view fair and inclusive recruitment as a necessity that brings both business and social benefits.

So, what more needs to happen to improve apprenticeship opportunities and outcomes for BAME individuals? We need larger numbers of employers to offer advanced level apprenticeships as a real alternative to the full-time university option. There are talented young people opting for degree courses that offer poor employment outcomes. These young people should be accessing quality apprenticeships that provide level 4 and 5 qualifications. This requires employers to create more high-level apprenticeships and to make sure they have an approach to recruitment that delivers for BAME individuals.

Generally, apprenticeship providers and employers focus on the shortcomings of young people, such as a lack of certain work-relevant competencies. There are certainly things the education system can do to help graduates of the system be better prepared for the world of work. But employers have a role to play too, especially around the protected characteristics included in the Equality Act 2010. We need employers to ask themselves the key question - do we reflect the ethnic make-up of the local population? Private sector employers are crucial – and we must do everything possible to get many more employers to embrace both apprenticeships and ethnic diversity.

There are some welcome signs of change: BTEG recently attended two employer networking events where ethnicity and recruitment have been the focus. One was in Birmingham – organised by Unionlearn – and focused on boosting quality and access. The other was an awards event hosted by a successful tech sector provider in London. This provider rightly has a core focus on quality, access and meeting employer needs. Impressively, just over half of the provider’s apprentices, each year, are from BAME backgrounds. It was a very positive event and it was good to see employers nominating and recognising their talented apprentices. The winners were proud to receive their trophies and prizes and all looked forward to advancing their careers in the tech sector. This was proper inclusion: representing all members of our society and recognising talent from across the board.

We hope similar events are held across the country, especially during National Apprenticeships Week. However, providers and employers need to use these kinds of celebration events to ask themselves fundamental questions about the ethnic diversity within their companies and the sectors they operate within.

We need to learn from successful initiatives and apply these across the country. The following initiatives and practical actions offer some ways forward:

Connect employers with schools and diverse young people

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) recently commissioned a BTEG-led partnership to connect young people at school with tech and construction sector employers that are offering opportunities over the next decade in their locality. The LLDC see the value in school age young people having contact with employers and role models as early as possible. Young people are often not aware of the full range of career opportunities that they can purse in construction, tech and other sectors such as engineering.

Young people value seeing and meeting role models that come from a similar background and this makes a real difference for girls, individuals with learning difficulties and disabilities and BAME young people who may not have considered these options as being for ‘people like them’.

Targeted interventions are necessary to tackle the biggest challenges

In 2014, Trust for London, City Bridge Trust and BTEG formed a partnership called Moving on Up. This aimed to increase the employment rate for young black men in London over a two-year period to match the employment rate for young white men. Six local employment brokerage providers were awarded grants totalling £800k to help 270 young black men into work and, importantly, to help BTEG extract ‘learning’ about the process of engaging and connecting young black men with employers. One of the key learning points from the Moving on Up initiative was that engaging with employers is essential but challenging. The Moving on Up programme found that direct contact with employers helped to improve confidence and motivation, increased the young men’s social capital and sometimes led to job offers. However, getting employers to engage with the programme was a huge challenge.

Through the Moving on Up programme BTEG works closely with Jobcentre Plus. In 2017, BTEG and Jobcentre Plus tried to organise a series of breakfast meetings with small groups of local employers to discuss the initiative to get more young black men into work and explore what they could do to open opportunities and increase their young black male talent profiles. No local firm was willing to engage and one local Jobcentre Plus manager explained that their biggest challenge was convincing employers to employ young black men. Young black men make up 1 in 5 of the young male 16-24 population in London.

Improve workforce ethnic diversity and the employment of BAME young people

One senior leader in a large company spoke to BTEG about BAME recruitment and initiatives aimed at improving the representation of disadvantaged groups. It was pointed out that while the company supports a range of projects focused on BAME young people, the initiative that had had the most impact on the company was one that focused on social mobility. The respondent thought this was because people in the company at all levels had come to see the benefit of the initiative and had mainstreamed it, whereas BAME projects tend to remain marginal to the business.

For BTEG it’s no surprise in a predominately white organisation that leaders, managers and individuals at all grades seem more willing to embrace social mobility programmes. The focus on low income families and young people who are the first to attend university connects with many people who had a similar journey. Projects specifically on ethnicity might be more difficult for them to connect with as they might feel they are discriminatory.

Social mobility programmes are a mechanism for improving diversity. BTEG would like to see these programmes adopted for ethnic diversity as well as for those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Companies should be careful, however, not to overlook BAME young people from higher income backgrounds especially on graduate schemes and paid internships.

Defining new talent

The recent Open University publication, ‘The Apprenticeship Levy: one year on’ (2018), contains some interesting findings based on a survey of 750 business leaders. The research found that 54% of employers in England are using apprenticeships for training new recruits and 22% for replacing an existing graduate scheme. It said that 37% of employers have found that offering apprenticeships has helped them to attract ‘new talent’. This is encouraging but the report has not defined what is meant by ‘new talent’. BTEG believes we must define what we mean by new talent and the definition must include ethnicity, gender, learning difficulties and disabilities, and other relevant protected characteristics. This is where the National Apprenticeship Service must be bolder and work with employers to ensure that this is the standard definition of ‘new talent’.

There should be no opportunity deficit for any group of young people. Recent initiatives to improve apprenticeship participation rates for BAME young people are welcome, but more needs to be done. The Government has used legalisation to force companies to publish data on the gender pay gap and even though the data provides a limited picture, it’s a very positive step forward. We believe that employer action is key. Large companies should now adopt the Government’s data-led approach to drive change in relation to ethnicity (and for people with other protected characteristics who face similar issues). We also urge companies of all sizes to engage with or replicate for themselves the practical actions outlined in this essay.

Macpherson 20 years on: a personal reflection

Feb 26, 2019

The murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Lawrence family’s arduous pursuit for justice marked a painful period for the nation. For many it crystallised the struggles of Britain’s black and minority ethnic communities for acceptance and equality in British society. Judge William Macpherson’s report into Stephen’s murder was a powerful critique of how our institutions absorb racism into their culture and practice.

Macpherson’s use of the term `institutional racism’, in relation to the Metropolitan Police, evoked a heated response. Macpherson defined institutional racism as:

"The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people."

Many, including the media commentator Melanie Phillips, rejected the concept of `institutional racism’.

I feel a lot of that is wrapped up in an uncritical interpretation of Britain’s history and a lack of empathy to those who were on the receiving end of past British glories. This approach to history is a real turn off to a lot of young people from BAME communities in school. Understanding, or even giving an acknowledgement to, different interpretations of history doesn’t feature in the conventional view of Britain’s past that shapes too much of our politics, mores and world views.

20 years on from the launch of the Macpherson Report, many would say that the country has moved on and got better at addressing racism and inequality. Undoubtedly a lot has changed since 1999 (the war on terror, Islamophobia, the resurgence of the far right and anti-Semitism) but, by the government’s own data through its race disparity audit, inequality on the grounds of race and ethnicity are more widespread and entrenched since 1999.

The challenge now for those campaigning and supporting efforts to address race disparities in the criminal justice system, as we do at BTEG and Equal, is how we actually make progress.

I think Macpherson is still relevant today in giving us lessons in moving forward. Leadership is crucial, as is acknowledging that the problem exists and that it is in the interests of all of us to address it.  We also need to give a greater attention to the self-interest of frontline workers, such as police and prison officers, who I believe do not see any benefit in actions that address race inequality and may, in fact, be quite hostile.

Efforts to make our workforce more representative of the communities they serve have not been successful over the past 20 years.  A good example of this is policing and the dominant media message that more “stop and search” from the police will alleviate knife crime and youth violence. This analysis seems to run contrary to the public health approach with its emphasis on prevention and early interventions and to evidence from academics, such as recent research from Sussex University that showed the link between stop and search and the 2011 riots.

Another aspect of stop and search, that affects me on a personal level, is its impact on children. The father of two sons, my eldest was stopped and searched for the first time at 16 and my youngest at 12. Is this really helping to nurture better community relationships with the police and address the fundamental issues Macpherson raised more than two decades ago? Are the police openly engaged in real honest debates about these challenges and taking them seriously?

The police would make greater progress by reintroducing some old interventions for the current times. I rarely hear senior police officers or political leaders speak about the need for more police officers to walk the streets, speak to members of communities and build relationships and trust. This was the foundation of British policing. It is a visible deterrent and a way to generate greater confidence in policing.

I recently heard the current Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, on Desert Island Discs. It was interesting to learn more about her as a person – the daughter of value-driven parents, losing her father at young age and being brought up by a single parent and, of course, being the first openly gay Commissioner of Police for the Met. She brings all of this life experience to the job. My challenge to her would be where is the authentic experience from London’s BAME communities within her institution? I think 20 years on from Macpherson it’s a pertinent question for all of our institutions.

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together

Jan 16, 2019

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together  African Proverb

Welcome to the first in the Connectivity Programme blog series.

For many years we have, as a sector, been making advancements in the key areas of our work but there is still a way to go given the complex needs of the communities we serve. A lot of research and development has been done to assist in highlighting the factors involved in meeting community needs and removing the barriers that impact on the BAME VC sector’s ability to achieve success and create longer lasting impact. These barriers include:

  • Capacity and capability - This could be anything from developing financial literacy, management, programme/project development, bid writing to leadership and policy formation.

  • Cultural and political - Many organisations struggle to understand and navigate the cultural and political landscape both internally and externally that will directly affect their ability to deliver.

  • Reputation and responsibility - Understanding how developing networks enable you to build a reputation in the community and sector are vital to creating lasting impact and success.

  • Trust and respect - building trusting and trusted networks support the development and sustainability of the VCS organisations.

  • Finance and funding  - financial planning within the sector should be supported and developed in order to allow for organisations to understand the ‘business’ of community work to create financially empowered organisations that can respond to emerging community needs as well as their everyday activities

No single organisation or programme can tackle or solve the increasingly complex social problems we face as a society. This can only be achieved by having a stronger collective infrastructure, a stronger brand and a stronger collective voice through the range of development and support activities needed to create meaningful, lasting collaborations that bring about meaningful and lasting change.

Using the Collective Impact Approach - a model designed to assist in removing the barriers and working not just together but with meaningful commitment and collaboration – the Connectivity programme will connect selected partners within the BAME sector to create a stronger collective infrastructure, a stronger brand and a stronger collective voice. It will enable them to:

  • Be better equipped to establish and develop collaborations 

  • Effectively utilise the skills, time and resources through meaningful collaboration

  • Understand the risks and responsibilities when working in collaboration

  • Increase awareness and access to organisations across the sector and wider

  • Increase confidence in leading and managing change

  • Strengthen voices on key issues affecting BAME communities

Creating and maintaining collective impact requires a separate organisation(s) with staff and a specific skill set to serve as the backbones for the entire initiative. The backbones of the Connectivity Programme are BTEG and the City Bridge Fund but they are not alone. Three key backbone organisations working in partnership with us are Croydon BME Forum, Selby Trust and Council of Somali Organisations. Each formed, knowing or unknowingly, with the Collective Impact Approach in mind and have chosen some of their BAME organisations to assist in the growth and development of their communities.

If you would like more information on how you can get involved or want to know more email Simone Williams simone@bteg.co.uk

Read an extended version of this blog here

Routes2Success Preston Manor Project

Jan 09, 2019

By Hepburn Harrison-Graham

Recently my wish came true, when I was given the opportunity to work with a group of boys at Preston Manor School in Wembley.  It was a real opportunity to do something consequential with the boys, something from which they could learn.

As it was Black History Month, the boys wanted to do a project about contemporary Black British history. After debating various options, such as Stephen Lawrence and the SUS laws, they opted to tell the story of the New Cross Fire in 1981, in which fourteen young black people lost their lives.

I went away and wrote a ten-minute ensemble piece, to ensure all nineteen boys made a verbal contribution. Many of them had never done drama before, so it was both challenging and daunting for them.  Obviously, it wasn’t all plain sailing but, on the whole the boys were focused, disciplined, worked well as a team and, most importantly, had fun.

At the end of the rehearsal process, I was enormously impressed and very proud when they performed the ten-minute play to all Preston Manor year group assemblies.  For some, it was a huge quantum leap in terms of their oral communication, self-esteem and confidence. Proving once more that drama is a great tool for helping young people to overcome their insecurities.

Judging by the feedback, the boys thoroughly enjoyed the project and would be keen to do more. For my part, it was by far the most gratifying thing I ever done during my time with Routes to Success.  Not only because I had more time with the boys but because I was able to equip them with some key life skills while educating them about  one of the darkest days in Black British history.

Read more about the project on page 7 of the Preston Manor School newsletter

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