9. Education and Business Partnership - Coventry and Warwickshire Partnerships Ltd
The project aims to link education provision with the world of work. These links enable employers' future requirements to influence ideas about school pupils' longer-term development, and to inform their education and employment prospects.
Since there are two education authorities in the TEC area - Coventry and Warwickshire - this is in effect two projects in one. Both are overseen by management committees/steering groups, and receive strategic direction from the Local Strategic Learning Partnership. This is facilitated by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise (CCTE).
A variety of factors have contributed to the success of this scheme.
A lack of funding from partners, businesses and schools has been overcome through a growing reliance on volunteers. However, the cost and complexity of SRB administration, particularly for a project involving so many beneficiaries, have been prohibitive; the scheme administration has not succeeded in remedying this, and it is seen as the primary objection to SRB funding.
- Strategic co-ordination, both across the two areas, and within each of them.
- It was built on existing pilot activity that was effective and well received.
- There was some recognition of sub-regional differentiation.
- The enthusiastic, almost missionary, project management.
- The lasting, continued involvement of (relatively) small number of committed local employers.
- A commitment from the CCTE to maintain matched funding out of reserves, in spite of pressures to spend elsewhere.
Background: Problems to be Tackled
In 1994, an evaluation work by the Institute of Manpower Studies, Sussex University demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of the - then - existing practice. This acted as the basis for the development of this project. It demonstrated that Coventry and Warwickshire continued to need to develop the focus of the Education and Business Partnerships (EBPs) in addressing the following problems:
How the Project was Developed
- the achievement gap in relation to the then NTETs;
- the perceived inexperience of young people leaving school of the world of work;
- the fact that many decisions about Careers and Employment made by young people are based on relatively weak evidence of life in industry and commerce and
- the need in the sub region to address the fragmented mechanisms for collaboration between business and education.
The project built on the activity that was undertaken by the two EBPs, which predated the introduction of the SRB. The leadership and advisory structures for the EBP companies worked within the strategic framework developed by Coventry and Warwickshire Partnerships, the lead partnership for the bid.
The CWP Round One SRB had a range of eight strategic impact objectives and three strategic process objectives. In common with all of the projects under Round One, the project met the three 'process objectives', namely:
From the scheme's eight 'impact objectives' this project met the following strategic objective and related operational objectives:
- Strategic objective one - working in partnership (especially with local communities, and service users);
- Strategic objective two - reducing disadvantage (especially directing resources and services to people living in poverty);
- Strategic objective three - seeking to provide equality of opportunity and social justice (enabling individuals to participate fully in the economic and social life of the sub-region).
Coventry and in Warwickshire's respective EBP company boards developed their distinctive model for the EBP in Coventry in consultation with partners. The then TEC fused these, and put the resulting bid forward for assessment through the SRB Round One bidding and project development process.
- Strategic objective 4: Ensure skills to maximise growth and opportunities.
- Operational objective 4: Further develop the coherence of the framework of links between business and education and particularly increase the ownership of education-business partnerships by employer
- Operational objective 5: Improve educational attainment and reduce the failure index by monitoring and improving educational performance in schools, including key stages 1-4 in schools, and National Learning Targets.
The unifying mission for the project is 'to enhance and support education, training, and employment opportunities through a partnership between the education and business communities'.
The project objectives are:
The activity in Coventry is focused on Partnership and Learning Resource Centres based at major local employers. Schools book them for use through the EBP, and curriculum sessions for groups of pupils are run jointly with teams of personnel from the host companies (and others who are supporters of the EBP). Much of the activity is project based, designed to introduce young people to some of the features of working life in industry. Key and transferable skills like teamwork, problem solving, presentation skills and leadership tend to be the focus of these activities.
- to work towards the competitiveness of the sub region through the achievement of the National Targets;To enrich and improve the relevance of the curriculum in order to raise motivation and levels of attainment;
- to improve young people's economic and industrial understanding to aid their successful transition to adult life as responsible producers, citizens and consumers;
- to provide a coherent framework linking business and education by increasing the numbers involved in collaborative activity from both communities.
- to contribute towards the effectiveness of careers education and guidance.
- to identify and adopt best practice to ensure that all EBP activity is of the highest quality.
Other activities common to both the EBPs include:
The management and leadership of the two EBPs differ in some respects. Each has a local management board. However, in Warwickshire there are four area advisory committees, because of its size and the varied characteristics of its different areas.
- Work placements - for both pre and post 16 students;
- Schools-industry liaison - through formal and informal mechanisms;
- Industry days - to introduce young people from groups of schools to local employers and their perspectives on education and employment, including project activity and exercises focused on transferable skills;
- Awareness activity with educationalists and employers;
- Teacher placement programmes, providing teachers with structured experience in industry. Many of the teacher placements are operated through the Partnership and Learning Support Centres ;
- Mentoring programmes under which young people are 'buddied' with an employee in a local company who provides support and guidance to them on curriculum, careers and work experience related issues.
The two management boards contract with the CCTE to deliver the SRB outputs, and report every three months to the EBP. The EBP Chair in turn sits on the Strategic Education Forum. This body, the region's strategic learning partnership, is responsible for monitoring National Learning Targets and the co-ordination of strategic education issues in the sub region. On it sit the chief executive of each of the Careers Partnerships (there is one of these for each LEA area), the chief education officers, the chief executive of the CCTE, a college principal, and several business people. This link has the effect of setting - to some extent - the EBP plans and direction within the strategic framework for the education partnership in the sub region.
The scheme is a five-year investment programme with total costs of £2,840,000. The SRB investment for that period is £660,000, with £820,000 from the two local authorities, and £500,000 from the CCTE.
Outcomes and Achievements
The project aims to make a qualitative difference to the following dimensions of the school: industry joint working mechanisms:
Most of the outputs attributed to the projects are activity and throughput indicators. For example:
- diversification of learning environments available;
- enhancement and enrichment of the curriculum;
- increased resources available for teaching and learning;
- increased student motivation;
- Personal and professional development for employees.
- increased student awareness of the opportunities available - and the demands which these will make on them and
- more informed student choices at transition points.
The monitoring returns from March 1999 indicate that both the output profiles and work experience entitlements have been achieved. There is also evidence from the mentors that there have been "vast improvements in self esteem" among young people. Moreover, there have been active efforts to promote the scheme among local employers, with the membership of the local advisory groups proactive.
- pupils benefiting from projects.
- numbers of students involved in activities on employer premises.
- number of employer organisations involved and
- number of schools involved.
Tel: 024 7665 4321