After three successful fairs, ABN AMRO Foundation recently organised the fourth Walking Fair in the context of Partner of the Future, under which we support community initiatives designed to discover and develop talent. During their lunch breaks, bank employees put their best feet forward to support special projects.
We need to create a close connection between education and business. After all, today’s students are tomorrow’s employees.
Leonie Verwer Sponsor Manager
Walking Fair 2015 a hit
The fair was held between 18 and 25 June. For the fourth year in a row, enthusiastic ABN AMRO employees in various bank offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam put on their sports shoes and gave up their lunch breaks to support the talent of the future. It’s all very simple: after the walk, you vote for one of the four areas of Partner of the Future: Sport, Art & Culture, Education and Entrepreneurship. The result? Some 1,300 employees walked a total of 2,710 kilometres in one week, raising a total of EUR 15,000. The sum was distributed over all four domains.
Education comes in first
It was a close race between the four domains, but in the end it was Education that won most of the votes. Two primary schools represented this domain: primary schools ‘Het Talent’ in the town of Lent and ‘De Koekoek’ in Utrecht. Both of them received EUR 3,500 to invest in their talent programmes, and they will certainly put the money to good use.
Talent is more than arithmetic
That’s exactly why schools welcome the Walking Fair contribution. It helps them spot talented young pupils as early as possible. Both Het Talent and De Koekoek take a wide approach to talent. Based on the notion that children can be ‘smart’ in many ways, they not only test cognitive skills like arithmetic and grammar, but also focus on physical, cultural and social talents like sports, music and cooperation.
The two schools also encourage the development of social and creative talents. For example, both worked with ABN AMRO Foundation to set up a new successful theme for Partner of the Future: de Trotskoffer. This pilot helps children aged 4 to 11 discover what they are good at and where their talents lie. In collaboration with digital publisher Blink Educatie, the idea has since been developed into a full-scale learning method for primary-school education.
Start early, gradually reap the benefits, play together
The heads of the two schools have very clear visions: talent is the oxygen of society. But they both believe you need to discover talent at an early age. John Jansen, headmaster of De Koekoek:
"Every child has unique qualities and skills. We need to discover these as early as possible, so that we can take into account the choices they will make in the future. A good school is committed to developing talent. This boosts confidence and motivation, and helps children learn more effectively. We should encourage pupils to make the most of their talent."
Carla van den Bosch, headmistress of primary school Het Talent, also emphasises the importance of giving children an environment in which they can develop their talent:
"We give pupils the space to develop and grow their talent at their own pace. We have designed our organisation such that every child feels that they are seen, acknowledged and appreciated. We do this by having groups of 110 children between the ages of 4 and 12 work and play together."
Both schools will use the money ABN AMRO raises to develop their pupils. De Koekoek wants to optimise the talent meetings that the school holds for children and parents. Mr Jansen explains:
"Our school holds meetings with pupils and their parents to specifically discuss the child’s development. This requires a great deal of preparation, and that takes time. You not only need the right materials; you also need to free up time for teachers. We will use the contribution from the Walking Fair for these meetings."
Het Talent also talks with its pupils to discover where their talents lie and what they want to learn. The school is currently adding a new dimension to its ‘portfolio interviews’, by focusing more on language. Talent is not only developed in the schoolyard or hallways. That’s why the school is reviewing the environment, where young people can maximise their talent. Ms Van Den Bosch talks about her ambitions:
"We will look at what changes need to be made to the learning environment so that our pupils can develop their talent by working independently. We want to invest in concrete things, like a technology wall and a space where the pupils can experiment."
Invest now, benefit later
I believe it’s important for the bank to commit to social projects that help us invest in our future. A prime example is creating a better connection between education and business. Today’s pupils are tomorrow’s employees – also ABN AMRO’s. We and the schools believe that every child has talent. The question is, what are their talents? To discover this, we at Partner of the Future are working together with schools, teachers and experts to help primary school pupils discover and develop their talent.
Another Walking Fair will undoubtedly be held in 2016. We’re already looking forward to it!
The ABN AMRO Walking Fair is part of Partner of the Future, under which ABN AMRO supports special initiatives in the areas of sport, art & culture, education and entrepreneurship. For education, we invest in projects at primary schools. Hundreds of employees every year give back to the community by doing volunteer work, for example by reading to children and by teaching them how to handle money responsibly.