The £120m contribution of business in supporting the Government’s education agenda was today welcomed by School Standards Minister Estelle Morris at a Business in the Community conference in Kings Cross.
Business is contributing an average of £30m a year through support for schemes such as specialist schools, education action zones and City Academies.
Ms Morris said, “Business makes an important contribution to education, both through sponsorship and through practical local partnerships. This trend has greatly increased since 1997 and I am keen to see even more such partnerships in the future. Raising standards and tackling social exclusion are priorities that we share with many companies.
“I am pleased to announce that since 1997, we have secured over £120m worth of business investment. The 113 Education Action Zones and 386 Specialist schools designated since 1997 with private sector support are already making a difference in raising standards. The benefits of education-business partnerships are plain to see. This year’s performance tables show primary schools in the first EAZ areas improving faster and specialist schools gaining higher than average improvements in their GCSE results.
“At a practical level pupils gain from business links that bring enhanced work experience, help bring the curriculum to life through involvement in the classroom and provide business volunteers to help with literacy and numeracy. Teachers benefit from staff development through professional development placements, more direct support in the classroom and from business management expertise.
“Business also benefits. A third of employers are experiencing a significant gap between the skills they need and those available. Education-business partnerships will benefit pupils now so that they can help fill the skills gap in the future.
“We want to create a culture of learning underpinning economic competitiveness, encourage creativity and innovation and to help build a more cohesive society. Partnerships with business are already helping us to achieve this, which is why we have set up local Education-Business link consortia tasked with developing new local partnerships.
“The aim is to have Education-Business consortia in each of the 47 local Learning and Skills Council areas from April 2001. The consortia will provide a co-ordinated and strategic service making it easier for school and businesses to get involved at a local level. Earlier this month, the Secretary of State announced that next year’s funding for the consortia would be £23m, in recognition of the important work they do and the significant role they will play in the future.
“There are already many excellent examples of education-business links such as the £750,000 Halifax investment in the Halifax EAZ. I want to see this replicated further throughout the country. Business has a huge contribution to make but it also has much to gain from a more competitive and better skilled future workforce.”