Creating a learning community

Mike Tuffrey


Posted in: Environment

Creating a learning community

October 01, 1994


The extent of education-business links in the UK compares favourably with other countries, although more focus is needed, according to a CBI report published on September 8. Creating a Learning Community sets out 21 ways in which quality can be improved in the planning, monitoring and evaluation including:

involving all CBI members in links with education

ensuring that all schools have links with business by the year 2000

continuing government funding for Education Business Partnerships and the Teacher Placement Service

emphasising the number of government education and training initiatives that depend on business links, such as GNVQs and Modern Apprenticeships.

A survey by the London School of Economics included in the report found that half of primary schools and over 90% of secondary schools already have some form of link with business. Since 1988, 57% of companies have increased their involvement in secondary schools, but only 14% use performance indicators to monitor activity. Contact CBI on 0171 379 7400


More private funding for higher education, a broader school curriculum combining academic and vocational training and educational aid for deprived areas were among the measures called for by Sir Claus Moser in his presidential address to the British Association annual conference on September 5. His speech highlighted many of the recommendations made by the National Commission on Education, set up with funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation after his influential address to the Association four years ago. Sir Claus also pointed to the contribution that industry could make, including curriculum content, assessment procedures, structures of qualifications, training, governance and post-16 education. At the same conference, Professor Alan Smithers of Manchester University called for a longer school day to accommodate five modified A Levels instead of the traditional three. He said that a broader choice of subjects up to the age of 18 might encourage more pupils to study science after GCSE. Contact Sue Lowell, British Association, on 0171 494 3326


NatWest launched Face2Face with Finance, its financial literacy programme for schools, on September 14. Based on real-life examples, the programme will educate 11-18 year-olds in money management. The scheme has been developed over the past two years in partnership with SCIP, the Schools Curriculum Industry Partnership, and in consultation with the National Foundation for Educational Research. It was piloted in schools in four areas of the country. It is expected that in the first three years the scheme will involve 150,000 students via 13,000 planned activities; 2,000 branch staff are being trained to help teachers implement the programme. The programme has four key elements: in-class simulations, enterprise activities, work experience and teacher placements. Research commissioned by NatWest revealed that students and parents strongly support the idea of money management education in schools. Contact Sue Skinner, NatWest, on 0171 714 4495


Compact Plus for Jobs, an extension of the Compact Plus Club initiative, is being piloted this term in secondary schools. The Compact Plus scheme was established in 1990 to raise the employment levels of young people in inner cities and urban areas by offering them additional support through part-time advisers. Compact Plus for Jobs extends the main scheme, by providing full-time advisers and follow-up support after they leave school. Supported by Marks & Spencer, Whitbread and Sainsbury, the two year trial will undergo a thorough evaluation programme. The Compact scheme is based on the American Jobs for Graduates (JAG) scheme. Contact Peter Newman, BITC, on 0171 629 1600


More schools have now joined the Esso Schoolwatch scheme, run in conjunction with Learning Through Landscapes for the start of the autumn term. Pupils and teachers survey their school grounds then plan improvements. Learning Through Landscapes also logs the information on a database, which can be accessed by schools for examples of best practice and is used to lobby for improvements at a national level. Nearly 3,000 schools have so far joined the scheme. Contact Martin Tims, Esso, on 0171 245 2310


The environmental education charity Living Earth has launched My Place – Our Place, aimed at encouraging community partnerships between schools and local businesses via local environmental projects. Legal & General is providing £50,000 towards the project, which compliments the national curriculum. Secondary schools throughout the UK will receive a resource pack on setting up an environmental scheme, approaching a local business and attracting local press coverage. An awards scheme will also run to highlight successful partnerships. Contact Samantha Ryder, Living Earth, on 0171 258 1823


Wellcome published a resource pack on HIV and AIDS on September 26, aimed at teachers of 11-14 year olds. Developed in partnership with health education professionals and teachers, the pack includes a teacher’s guide, and information booklet and four activity leaflets. Research by Wellcome showed that there is less information about AIDS available to the 11-14 age group. Contact Kay Roberts, Wellcome, on 0171 387 4477


Around 200 primary schools nationwide are taking part in Esso Young Energy Savers (YES), an energy saving project run in conjunction with the Groundwork Trusts. The launch of the scheme follows a successful pilot scheme in nine schools in Berkshire. Schools carry out an energy review, identifying areas where energy savings could be made. Then a guide from the scheme advises on how to put them into practice. Contact Martin Tims, Esso, on 0171 245 2310


Companies continue to find new ways to work with schools; NatWest’s financial literacy programme is the latest good example of a comprehensive, carefully tested approach, linked closely to long term business benefits. The growth in education-business links in recent years, found by the CBI/LSE survey, is impressive. But is it working?

The critical test is whether business involvement is making schools more relevant and attractive. For the minority of pupils – bright and academically-inclined – conventional schooling works. For the rest, under-achievement and truancy is still too prevalent. Business involvement can make school a place worth coming to, through simulations, work placements, things obviously relevant to life, like money management.

For the long term, the CBI emphasised the role of government. So it was very disappointing to find virtually no mention of the role of business in the Labour Party’s new education proposals, published just days after Tony Blair’s accession to the leadership in July. Their old producerist mentality, in hock to the teacher unions, has been modified but only to the extent of stressing parental involvement. But the policy was drawn up under the old regime. So one interesting test of whether Tony Blair really does represent a new Labour Party will be whether a new, business-orientated, education policy emerges. Watch this space.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 18 – October, 1994