Susie Perrett, Director, Education at Business in the Community gives her thoughts about the Winner and Finalists in this year's Schools Partnership Award.
At Business in the Community we believe a young person’s background should not predict their success at school or beyond. And so it is inspiring to see businesses collaborating with schools to help this become a reality, resulting in improved GCSE results and students who feel more capable of dealing with challenges, as well as having greater ambition for their futures. The entries for this year’s School Partnership Award clearly show the positive difference businesses can make to young people’s lives.
Given the collaborative programme approach Esh Group take, I am particularly pleased that they are the Winners of this year’s School Partnership Award. They are meeting the needs of schools and young people, while simultaneously addressing an urgent business requirement. To help raise awareness of careers in the construction industry, Esh Group have engaged significant numbers of other businesses and shared their model with them. The result is that nearly 7,000 students and their teachers have learnt about the skills and qualifications young people need to succeed, helping those the programme inspires to turn their ambitions into reality. This is a fantastic achievement.
What was particularly exciting about their entry is the way it fits with interim findings of research being carried out by Warwick University on behalf of Business in the Community. The full details will be released in November, but the early indications are that school and business activity has greater impact when young people have the opportunity to engage with a range of businesses. Therefore I was delighted to read how Esh Groups’ Building My Skills programme integrated support from 65 businesses.
Before participating in the programme 13% of students had engaged with one business a year, afterwards all had engaged with six a year. This means they are five times less likely to become NEET (not in education, employment or training) when they are older. Becoming NEET has been shown to have a detrimental effect on physical and mental health, both at the time and throughout a person’s life. Spending time NEET when young means an increased likelihood of unemployment, low wages, low quality work, unhealthy behaviours and involvement in crime later on in life. Therefore we hope that more businesses will follow Esh Group’s example and collaborate to improve young people’s life chances.
Through the efforts of this year’s School Partnership Award nominees 85,000 young people have benefited from the support of 4,874 business volunteers. That means there are 85,000 young people who have learnt first-hand about interesting career options, met role models who have forged successful careers, become more confident about asking questions or motivated to try harder in class. This is a great achievement and we congratulate all those volunteers and the businesses they work for who have supported them.
However there is significantly more to do. We may have reached 85,000 this year, but 3.5 million children are growing up in poverty and only 1 in 8 children from low-income homes goes on to achieve a high income as an adult.
Our vision is that one day the worlds of education and employment will align and all young people will leave school able to build successful working lives. We need more businesses to collaborate and engage with schools so every young person is given the tools they need to achieve their full potential both at school and beyond. I would encourage you to read the case studies from this year’s School Partnership Awards to see what your organisation could do to ensure even more young people benefit from the unique support businesses can provide.
If you would like more information about how your business can both help and benefit, please contact Katy Neep on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7566 8688.