December 2014

The know zone

  • Number lessons
    ASCL’s new training DVD aims to give people a deeper understanding of budgets and balance sheets and so help avoid clashes over spending, says Val Andrew. More
  • A window on work
    Karleen Dowden offers five ways that schools and colleges can bring students together with employers to gain insights into the working world. More
  • To grade or not to grade?
    Tony Thornley shares his insights into what an outstanding school looks like and why best practice demands more than ticking Ofsted’s boxes. More
  • Maximise the benefits
    Are you and your staff getting the most out of continuing professional development (CPD)? More
  • ASCL PD events
    ASCL PD runs a number of CPD courses to help school and college leaders motivate their staff. More
  • Last word
    No one in their right mind would join a club and sign up to its regulations and then claim that the rules don’t actually apply to them, would they? So why do some people think that instructions issued by schools can be treated in such a cavalier fashion? More
  • Stronger together
    Exploring how one charity believes it’s possible to rebuild the lives of both bereaved pupils and schools. More
  • Unbalanced view?
    Workload is becoming an increasingly serious problem in schools and colleges. What is your view on this important issue – do you have a healthy work-life balance? Is an increasing workload something that is affecting you and your staff? Here ASCL members share their thoughts. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    More than half of ASCL members are now in academies and many are from independent schools – this month, the hotline has taken several calls from members in these sectors. Below are just a few of the questions our hotline staff have answered, although clearly in the answers there are messages for all members regardless of sector. More
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Karleen Dowden offers five ways that schools and colleges can bring students together with employers to gain insights into the working world.

A window on work

The government is keen to see more employers getting involved with schools to help give young people valuable contact with the real-life world of work. Many large businesses, meanwhile, are falling over themselves to work with schools in an attempt to develop skill and talent pools for the future. The good news for schools is that employer engagement can be developed without having to spend lots of hard cash, as many of the initiatives offered by employers are free (including all of those listed below), although effective employer engagement does require schools to invest time in planning, coordinating and evaluating their strategy.

1. Have a strategy

Like any whole-school initiative, employer engagement needs to come from a clear strong strategy that is supported and led from the top. There is a large amount of evidence showing the benefits of schools engaging with employers, including research by the charity Education and Employers Taskforce that found that young people who had experienced greater levels of contact with employers were ‘significantly less likely to be NEET [Not in Education, Employment, or Training] and more likely to be earning at a higher level’. It reinforces the point that school-age employer engagement is closely linked to getting a good start in the labour market.

2. Get volunteers from business into school

Volunteers can bring their experiences of the world of work directly to the classroom, providing generic, sector- and profession-specific information.

Inspiring the Future is a service that links schools with volunteers from all sectors and professions who come in to talk about their jobs, careers and the education routes they took. Volunteers can also carry out mock interviews and help students develop their CVs.

The Brightside Trust provides volunteers from business to act as online mentors, helping students look at what careers they would like to pursue and providing support on how they go about getting there.

3. Become involved in a planned business programme

There is a wealth of employer-led and designed programmes available for schools to participate in. Barclays Life Skills is a curriculumlinked programme, developed with teachers to help improve the skills and employability of young people in the UK. Among other things it includes resources and workshops that can be used by teachers to prepare students for the world of work. Although led by Barclays the site also includes links to other business programmes that schools can engage with.

Business in the Community’s Careers Lab is a flexible programme aimed at 11-16 year-olds that gives schools the framework they need to engage local and national businesses in collaboration.

4. Utilise online resources

The online portal Plotr offers employer profiles, explaining exactly what a company does, what it’s like to work there and the career paths on offer. There are also live job vacancies on the site linked to each profile.

Accenture Skills to Succeed Academy is an online learning programme created to help address youth unemployment in the UK by supporting young people on their journey to finding and sustaining a job. It offers three courses and 35 interactive online learning modules designed to help young jobseekers to build the skills to choose a career, apply for jobs and be successful in a workplace.

The National Careers Service website includes job profiles from which students can explore the different types of sectors and industries they could work for, while the National Apprenticeship Service website holds thousands of apprenticeship vacancies advertised by businesses.

5. Involve employers in curriculum delivery

Many organisations have projects set by employers that can be integrated into the curriculum. This type of employer engagement can significantly enrich learning, providing students with the opportunity to apply what they are studying in class to real-life projects. The Engineering Development Trust (EDT) runs a number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related projects, including Go4SET, a ten-week STEM project, and Open Industry, which provides students with the opportunity to visit a number of businesses.

Further information

Karleen Dowden is ASCL Progression Consultant