Do It Day 2016: Business in the Community sets out to save the high street

Business in the Community working on its High Street High School

At this year's Do it Day, Business in the Community (BITC) created its 'High Street High School' initiative intended to help turn around Britain's declining high streets.

Following on from the winning idea at Plan it Day, BITC gave a team of creatives from digital design company Aerian a brief to help create the 'High Street High School'.

The idea was inspired from BITC's efforts to address the issues of jobs, decreasing footfall and empty premises, all of which have contributed to the waning health of Britain's high streets in recent years.

The school will allow big name high street brands to pass on their knowledge and expertise in navigating the difficulties of achieving success on the high street. This will be done in a classroom-like environment with subjects like 'history' and 'maths' being used to pass on lessons to neighbouring businesses on the high street about how to attract customers and be more sustainable.

On Do it Day, the team took all of the case study data and findings from BITC's work across the UK and created the curriculum and website which will now be used in the High Schools programme.

Aerian's senior designer, Paul Warder, and head of design, Neil Thorne, worked with creative director Pete Martin to design and build the website.

Business in the Community's team of Peter Donohoe, Ann Drew, Jennifer Exon and Jane Pritchard then worked Steve Antoniewicz, director of RAR, to create the lesson plans for the site.

Using the data from five towns- Stockton, Dunfermline, Loughboroug, Prestatyn and Liverpool- the team were able to formulate a teaching programme which will be delivered through the collaborative project.

When presenting the finished project on stage at the end of the day, Martin highlighted the importance of rejuvenating the high streets and how the High Street High School planned to do this.

"Empty shops not only harm economic wellbeing but also the sense of place and community for people in those towns," said Martin.

"Business in the Community has achieved some great results so the challenge is then how do you then scale that up?

"With this the learning's from one town can be passed on to the other less fortunate towns."

Jane Pritchard, enterprise and culture director at Business in the Community (BITC), said: "We've taken the concept of the High Street High School and developed a website and curriculum here today.

"That curriculum has been populated by case studies from the town's we've already worked with so we now have the digital collateral to engage with more business and increase the reach of what we're trying to do."

Going forward, the initiative will be presented at Business in the Community’s AGM and leadership summit on 23 November where over 300 senior business leaders and retail heads will have the chance to see the programme and potentially get on board.

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