Languages mean business for West Midlands students

Children combine fashion and languages
Children combine fashion and languages

8th November 2010

Over 250 students from schools across the West Midlands made languages their business when they met an expert from the international fashion industry.

Kim Knowles MBE, Director of KRK Associates Ltd, launched ‘Fashion International’, a new project helping students to understand the importance of languages in the world of fashion.

The project, created under the LinkedUp Award scheme was organised by the Regional Centre for the West Midlands, based at Aston University. The scheme is designed to encourage students to become involved in a range of innovative projects to help develop foreign language skills to improve their changes of future employability.

Pupils from five schools across Birmingham, Shropshire and Warwickshire had chance to put their French and German skills into action by taking part in a range of fashion related challenges.  These were Idsall School( Shifnal) in Shropshire; Broadway School ( Perry Barr), Small Heath School,(Small Heath) and Holyhead School  (Handsworth) in  Birmingham and Atherstone School, Atherstone, Warwickshire.

Kim, who was awarded an MBE by the Queen for his services to the fashion industry, was delighted with the response to the workshop and presentation. He said; “It was a real pleasure to be able to talk to the pupils about my real life experiences and the huge importance that languages play in the fashion industry.  I had chance to develop my language skills at school, which helped me to work in France, Germany and Scandinavia and build an exciting and rewarding career in the fashion industry.  The pupils that I’ve met were all a real credit to the school and their teachers and no doubt many have exciting careers ahead of them.”

Sally Wood, Head of Languages at Idsall School in Shifnal, Shropshire said; "We are really excited to be participating in the LinkedUp Award project.  Our Year 9 students thoroughly enjoyed the launch event and it was great to see them all working together, using their language skills.  There is a real buzz around this project and we feel it has made a real difference to our students' engagement in language learning."


[Photo: Mr Imed Belhouche of Small Heath School (Birmingham) and pupils at working on a group activity at the Fashion International launch]

Issued by the Regional Language Network West Midlands: .  Media contact is Chris Everall on 01527 871844 or 07796 500590.  Email:

Notes to editors

Decline in languages in schools; Only 44% of pupils continue with a language to GCSE, a decline from 76% in 2000. The decision to make languages optional post 14 was announced in 2002.

LinkedUp Award Scheme; The LinkedUp award scheme is part of the Links into Language programme that funds groups of language educators to collaborate and to develop an innovative approach to language learning.  There are a number of themes for these projects including employer engagement with schools.  Free dissemination materials from all of the LinkedUp projects are available online from

CILT, the National Centre for Languages; CILT is a not-for-profit charity working to promote the importance of languages. CILT has sponsored 18 employer engagement LinkedUp projects across England to encourage schools and businesses to work together through languages. These collaborative projects are helping young people to realise the importance of learning languages for their future career and to develop important employability skills.

Fashion International - participating schools

Idsall School, Shifnal, Shropshire

Broadway School, Birmingham Small Heath School, Birmingham

Holyhead School, Birmingham

Atherstone School, Atherstone, Warwickshire

Media contact for LinkedUp award scheme in the West Midlands is Satu Raitala-Hird, Regional Manager Links into Languages West Midlands, / 0121 204 3111.