Sharon Bell, the Chief Executive of Services For Education, the award-winning Birmingham-based charity whose mission is to bring music and learning to life, has been elected to the Council of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.
Her election coincides with her appointment as a non-executive director (pro bono) of one of the UK’s most respected Community Interest Companies (CIC), Miss Macaroon, that helps young unemployed people gain skills to change their lives.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Council guides the organisation’s key policy issues and campaigning activity and is a key part in the governance of the Chamber – one of the oldest and largest chambers of commerce in the country founded in 1813.
Sharon Bell was one of 22 candidates for the 11 Council vacancies and is the only one to be elected with school education, support and training as a core responsibility. Council members are elected by Chamber members for a three-year term and meet formally four-times a year.
“My role at Birmingham Chamber is an opportunity to further promote education, the arts and the charitable sector with the business community and to encourage greater participation by company leaders in supporting schools and our own work delivering music education and training support for teachers and education leaders,” said Sharon who became Chief Executive of Services For Education in 2019.
“The skills agenda is a critical issue as we emerge from the pandemic, and I am keen to promote the role of schools and music education in particular in developing the employees of the future.”
Separately, Sharon Bell has also been appointed a non-executive director of Miss Macaroon CIC which provides employability support for long-term unemployed young people – especially those experiencing barriers to employment such as mental health issues, learning difficulties, prior criminal offences and homelessness. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the social enterprise has also become a Gateway Organisation for the Kickstart Scheme, further supporting young people into the workplace.
“I am excited to be joining the board of Miss Macaroon. Like Services For Education, Miss Macaroon has a passion for working with young people, enabling them to gain the skills which will help them to change their lives. This resonates strongly with my own personal values, creating the opportunities for people of all ages to realise their own potential,” said Sharon who was previously Group Vice Principal (Commercial and International) at Warwickshire College Group and Associate Director for the Careers and Employability Service at University of Nottingham.
Services For Education has recently received several awards for its work – most recently the West Midlands Technology Awards 2021 for Innovation in Education, for its ground-breaking Online Educational Resource – a new online platform developed using its own internal resources to support schools, teachers and students in the teaching of music.
The charity employs more than 200 staff delivering music tuition to children, and expert training and development to teaching and school support staff. It has annual income of around £7m and is part-funded by the Arts Council, England as well as its own fund-raising and subsidised commercial operations.