NEARLY 30 businesses were praised for their help to schools in east Oxfordshire over the past year.

They received awards from the the Investors in Education partnership, which praised Thames Trains, The Oxford Belfry Hotel, builders Kingerlee, Thames Business Advice Centre, Oxford and Swindon Co-op, The Missing Link, Oxfordshire Fire Service and Sum-It Computer Systems for supporting the partnership's work. The partnership also runs a project on problem solving in the workplace at Unipart.

John Harwood, chief executive of the Learning Skills Council, handed out the awards.

Gosford Hill School, Kidlington, nominated garages group Motorworld, Whetter Duckworth & Fowler, the Kaleidoscope Family Centre and publisher Elsevier Science for their support for extended work experience placements. The school also praised Nigel Francis (Photography) for producing high-quality photographs for the school and the sixth form. John Watson School nominated transport company Walde & Bushnell for operating a reliable and efficient transport service as well as its high quality of care, contribution to fundraising and support for school performances.

Wheatley Park School nominated Oxford Brookes University for its mentoring service, Aventis Pharma for giving furniture, Holly Benson for giving equipment, RM and Unipart for supporting the school's bid for specialist status, the Motor Heritage Centre for liaising with the school to run a Certificate in Motor Vehicle Studies.

The Marlborough School, Woodstock, nominated the Woodstock Surgery for its consistent support for health & social care courses, and Moss Plastic Parts at Kidlington for its support for manufacturing courses.

Lord Williams's School, Thame, nominated estate agents Connell for providing publicity and financial sponsorship for the school, E Engineering for providing publicity and financial sponsorship for the Formula Schools 2000 project, BMW for providing opportunities to support a technology project, for attending careers conventions and hosting student visits.

The school also praised Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons for supporting work experience and raising awareness of developments in the hotel, catering and leisure industry. Halsbury Travel was thanked for its services for school travel, FMCG for major sponsorship in support of the school's bid for Sports College status and 3 Com Europe for supply of ICT equipment.