SPP Pumps, in partnership with Coleford Area Partnership
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Making Ends Meet – Maths learning at work
SPP Pumps has been a world leader in the design manufacture and production of centrifugal pumps and systems for a variety of applications across a range of industries for 130 years. Based in Coleford in The Forest of Dean, it employs 300 people worldwide, about 250 locally, and has recently been awarded Manufacturer of the Year at The Pump Industry Awards.
Engineering Manager at SPP Pumps – Laura Hurcombe – was one of several Workplace Learning Advocates in The Forest of Dean who trained as a Maths Champion, along with a member of Coleford Area Partnership (CAP), Claire Ham. Through the local Workplace Learning Advocates Network, Laura heard about a model of financial education workshops that an WLA employer has initiated in the North West region and mentioned that she would be interested in something similar for SPP Pumps.
Making Ends Meet – The Process
Adult Learners Week seemed an appropriate time to deliver sessions at SPP Pumps. Five sessions were planned for the company under the banner ‘Making Ends Meet’. These were offered in the early evening to employees and their partners. The offer was opened up to other employers in the local WLA network.
Session Plans and individual fliers were developed, personalised for the learners and customised for SPP Pumps. The sessions were advertised by posters and through internal emails. It was agreed this should be a pilot to learn from and to share with others.
Feedback from the sessions
All participants received the sessions positively and they generated lots of different discussions. Trust and rapport were quickly achieved and personal stories shared. Very practical top tips were shared for saving money, such as using EBay and Freecycle. Practical and ethical considerations, like fuel costs and the impact of the supermarket on the local economy were also discussed.
Goody bags were well received by all, particularly the novelty calculators!
The group went away invigorated and keen to meet again. They would like to find out more about each other’s meal planning, recipes, raising of animals, etc. and will perhaps become a self sustaining learning group.
“SPP are committed to supporting their employees and their families to achieving their full potential at work and at home. In the current economic climate, the ability to understand and manage your finances is essential to ensure we can do this. So, the Making Ends Meet session was organised, with attendees being employees, their families and members of the local community, (why run a course with spare seats? So we advertised the spare seats on local social media pages). In addition to this, we ran a helping your kids with their homework course, as we also recognise our responsibility to support our employees and our community in raising our employees of the future.
With positive feedback received from all in attendance and having noted a few learning points along the way, SPP will be following this success with a series of other sessions including ‘meet the experts’, ‘who am I’?’, and many more…. In order to facilitate this, we already have plans in place to train more workplace learning advocates and maths champions.” With positive feedback received from all in attendance and having noted a few learning points along the way, SPP will be following this success with a series of other sessions including ‘meet the experts’, ‘who am I’?’, and many more…. In order to facilitate this, we already have plans in place to train more workplace learning advocates and maths champions.” Engineering Manager – Laura Hurcombe;
- A couple of people who didn’t attend have since heard how good the sessions were and said they would like to come to future sessions.
- Laura was surprised at how informal the sessions were and how much information was shared between participants, for example, a question about primary maths was answered by another learner
- A follow up session was agreed with those who attended and others will be invited to join. One will bring money-saving recipes; another will bring information on how buying a pig has saved them money on meat; another has skills in eyebrow weaving; another has suggested a vegetable box idea to build company cohesion.
- Participants felt safe to share weaknesses as well as having a platform to share their skills and knowledge.
- Pre-prepared resources on embedding maths in everyday life provoked a lot of discussion and sharing of ideas (e.g. Playdough recipes).
- The discussion also covered learning styles, our experiences of school and how we personally learn. The learners decided to try a Maths Quiz – ‘Are you a spender or a saver?’.
Ask employees what they want – It would be preferable for another employee who works at a similar level in the company to train as a champion and take the WLA work forward.
Be flexible – be prepared to alter plans to suit the needs of the employees. Perhaps offer the same sessions at different times and different models.
Don’t give up – the sessions were deemed a success by those attending, although numbers were small, it was a worthwhile project. Use recommendations and feedback to encourage others next time. Make this a starting point for future, regular activity, so it becomes the norm.