WHEN it comes to exciting a whole new generation in Selby about the making of glass, St-Gobain has proved its class.

That was endorsed in 2004 when Saint-Gobain Glass UK in Eggborough won the Best Business and Education Link title in our Press Business Awards.

Now the £50 million turnover flat glass manufacturer is not only going for the same glory in The Press Business Awards 2006, but it is also pitching for the title of Large Business Of The Year.

It was confirmed when Cranfield School of Management declared St Gobain as Britain's Best Factory in its 2005 awards - one of five categories where the business swept the board.

Ever since this French firm opened its £80 million float glass plant in Weeland Road in 1988, it has inspired fascination from about 3,000 young people across the Selby area for the processes whereby today more than 170 employees produce 200,000 tonnes of flat glass per year.

To add to that fascination was the recent introduction of coating and laminating lines to make new products, part of an investment worth more than £20 million.

That accounted for the recruitment of more than 30 jobs in an area where employment trends are on the decline. It also propelled the company into the market leadership in thermal controlled glass, culminating in the launch of its newest product, Planitherm Total 1.1 in April.

Every year, about 500 pupils from 11 primary schools attend a Stem Fair funded by St Gobain at the Regen Centre in Riccall - an event which introduces them to the magic of science, mathematics and technology.

The fair wows them with workshops on lights and magnets and the police turn up to tell them how they use technology to fight crime.

But the application of manufacturing to school curricula has been given a huge boost by special government funding to develop curriculum materials.

Using some of that money plus free help from Saint Gobain, Selby High School has launched a specialist intranet website based on GCSE studies in manufacturing, but next month is to go national on the worldwide web.

The factory is also encouraging teacher placements to ensure that what their pupils are learning in the classroom is up-to-date and accurate.

There are also two-week placements for GCSE and college students at St Gobain. Two students from Brayton and Selby Colleges who were studying for their engineering Higher National Diploma this year worked alongside the factory's engineers.

The resource from which they drew is rapidly becoming regarded as the best in Britain. The factory chimney, for example, has the lowest emissions of any in the country, according to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Sandra Blakeston, of St Gobain, said: "We have seen many benefits from these activities and we hope these can continue and grow in the future."