Engaging with primary schools a "business blind spot"

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Businesses must “get involved and get working with schools" says CBI president

Engaging with primary schools is a "business blind spot", according to the CBI and Business in the Community (BITC).

BITC’s Destiny should not be determined by demography report found that 72% of pupils participating in partnerships with businesses felt this helped them develop skills helpful for future employment.

But a CBI/Pearson survey earlier this year found that fewer than a quarter (24%) of employers had links with primary schools compared to more than half (55%) with links to secondary schools.

“We’ve made great progress with secondary schools but the next vital step is engagement with primary schools,” said president of the CBI Paul Drechsler, speaking at an event to launch the report.

“This is where we lay the foundations for what happens next,” he said, adding: “Making a difference at primary schools can transform possibilities for young people.”

Drechsler said that primary schools should be moulded into “community hubs” where parents, local businesses and teachers partner to tackle barriers to social mobility and career aspiration.

“We need to go beyond bilateral ties between business and schools, schools and parents, to a ‘whole community’ approach that brings together schools, parents, firms, charities and others in the local area,” he said, calling on business to “get with the programme, get involved and get working with schools".

The BITC report found that 80% of schools feel a partnership is a key element of being a successful organisation. Advantages cited by pupils included work experience helping them become clearer on what they want to do in their career (73%), and a boost in confidence from working with business (80%).

Careers education (70%) and employability skills development (82%) were the two most frequent activities undertaken in education-business partnerships. Support for school management (62%), curriculum (70%), and entrepreneurship (71%) becomes more important as partnerships develop, the report found.

Destiny should not be determined by demography, which drew responses from 4,000 young people, 200 businesses and 200 schools, also found that the most successful business-school partnerships are those where a school works with a single company.

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