Top marks for school-business partnerships

Business in the classroom

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published the results of a study highlighting the significant benefits of partnerships between schools and businesses.

Ahead of the BCC’s first Business Education and Summit at London’s BT Centre on Thursday, they revealed the results of a UK-wide survey of more than 3,500 businesses and educators.

Eight-eight per cent of educational establishments partnering with businesses said the most important benefit was improved outcomes for their pupils.

The education leaders surveyed also stated that employer engagement has a clear benefit for their pupils, including: greater awareness of the soft skills that businesses value (74 per cent); increased motivation in lessons (73 per cent); better careers information (52 per cent); and lessons which are more relevant and connected to the world of work (46 per cent).

Forty-three per cent of business leaders reported that the main reasons for partnering with a school were to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility, to identify future employees (38 per cent) and to increase awareness of different jobs and career paths (35 per cent).

However, both business and education leaders reported a number of barriers preventing them from building lasting and effective partnerships.

For businesses and educators respectively, this included staff time (53 per cent/64 per cent) and administrative burdens (36 per cent/41 per cent).

Businesses also cited cost as a factor (38 per cent), while some educators identified a lack of interest from business (42 per cent).

“Long-lasting and effective partnerships between schools and employers improve young people’s job prospects and provide businesses with the skills they need,” said John Longworth, the BCC’s Director General.

“However, successive governments have focused too narrowly on academic outcomes alone, allowing the gap between education and business to widen in the name of testing.

“We must overcome the perceived hurdles, such as staff time constraints and a lack of interest from business, to encourage more schools and firms to bridge the gap.”

“It’s pleasing to see that educational establishments are reporting some benefits of associations with local businesses,” added Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

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