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Industry links need overhaul

Many small and medium-sized businesses have still to be convinced of the merits of links with schools, according to research published this week. The study, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise from the Scottish Council for Research in Education, focused on the future of education-business partnerships and the teacher placement scheme.

Researchers found that the recession had made small businesses reluctant to make a commitment to partnership initiatives, particularly in rural areas. There was a more general feeling that a greater range of businesses had to be involved.

Primary schools should step up their involvement, in line with improvements introduced through the 5-14 programme, the report urges.

The authors argue that both education and industry should have designated liaison staff. There should be an emphasis on quality of schemes rather than quantity, and the aim should be to benefit the whole curriculum at all stages.

In considering a number of options for the teacher placement scheme, the report recommends that it should be managed locally through partnerships. This is currently being piloted in four areas.

Direct access to local employers should ensure better placements for teachers, the report contends. But effective schemes must be linked with school development planning and staff appraisal.

One teacher placement organiser commented: "Schools will not release staff unless they see these linkages."

The report concludes that those who have personal experience of teacher placements are most positive about the benefits for staff development. It adds: "Quality placements produce extremely cost-effective curriculum and personal development for teachers."

Progress in Partnership, by Valerie Wilson, Anne Pirrie and Elizabeth McFall, is available from the Scottish Council for Research in Education, price Pounds 7.

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