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Business links not marketing driven

The article on business sponsorship for schools (TES, October 2) raised important issues about quality assurance in education-business links.

Across the country, Education Business Partnerships are working to promote links which raise educational standards, tackle disaffection and prepare young people for adult and working life.

Most business "sponsorship" of schools is in kind. Employers give their time to working with young people in projects which have both sound curriculum objectives and quality assurance by EBPs.

A Government survey in 1997 established that rather than being marketing driven, employers' motivation for working with schools focused around recruitment and skill shortages. To these objectives we would also add that of structured development opportunities for their own staff.

EBPs provide a forum for education and business to develop a common agenda which centres on raising the achievement of young people. The UK is regarded as a world leader in education business partnerships and we must ensure that concerns about a few projects do not lead schools or employers to withdraw from the majority of excellent projects that are doing so much to support young people. Thus the National EBP Network welcomes the call for a national framework and guidance to schools on sponsorship.

The National Consumer Council guidelines provide a balanced and helpful approach and we recommend their use to our members.

Gillian Morris Vice-chair National EBP Network Broom Cottages primary school Ferryhill Co Durham

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