Spark! traces its formation back to 1980 when a group of industrialists and senior colleagues from London Borough of Hounslow’s Education Department created the Industry Education Working Group (IEWG). From the outset the group was chaired by a senior business representative, initially from Gillette. In 1989 the IEWG changed into Hounslow Education Business Partnership (HEBP) and in 2012 we adopted the name Spark!

The IEWG was keen not just to be a talking shop and set four targets which were achieved in  the first year:

  • The setting up of Project Trident. This was led by a senior seconded manager from United Biscuits.
  • The creation of the Marlborough Training Centre, still going strong, to lead on training issues such as YTS.
  • A numeracy scheme for schools with input from industrialists.
  • A literacy scheme for schools with input from industrialists.

To ensure the workings of the IEWG were relevant and publicised, every other meeting was held in a school to ensure that Headteachers and their colleagues were able to contribute.

‘Industry Year 1986’ brought added impetus to this group as a teacher was seconded from Heston Community School for the year funded by TRIST.

1989 – the education business partnership emerges

In 1989 the IEWG was formally changed into Hounslow Education Business Partnership (HEBP). A high profile event ensured that the whole community was fully aware of the changes and benefits.

HEBP, and the IEWG before it, had always ensured that all stakeholders are fully engaged in all activities. A small, yet dedicated team, the organisation forged close links with contacts in local schools across Hounslow; ensuring that as many students as possible were engaged with a diverse range of career services and a knowledge base that was drawn upon by an increasing contact book of employers – incorporating SmithKline Beecham (later to become GSK).

The staff of HEBP would later be based at the local authority with direct input from schools, companies, Careers Service and other West London training organisations. The work of HEBP was given further impetus by the creation of the post of the Adviser for Work Related education. This dedicated position built on the achievements of the previous two decades and ensured that HEBP had a secure future as a major local player in tackling youth unemployment.

2010 – A charity is formed

In Autumn 2010, the organisation obtained charitable status and began trading as “Hounslow Education Business Charity”.  The charity’s founding trustees were friends and supporters of HEBP. In early November 2011 the staff and assets of Hounslow Education Business Partnership (HEBP) were formally transferred after extensive consultation to Hounslow Education Business Charity (HEBC).

The end of 2011 saw the retirement of one of HEBP’s founding fathers, Garth Buckle MBE, who had held the role of Business Links Co-ordinator since its inception. Garth’s immense contribution to the role was recognised as he became the first Honorary President of the organisation and continues to serve as an ambassador for our work.

In July 2012 HEBP rebranded as Spark!  The announcement also ushered in a new era for the board as Will Tyler, a founding trustee of Hounslow Education Business Charity, assumed the position of Chairman, replacing Phillip Miller who retired after holding the voluntary position since 1997.

With a reduction in government funding, this period has also seen the charity start to further diversify its funding sources.

Spark! has kindly been hosted at GSK House in Brentford since 1987.