Ian Nash is impressed by progress in the Business in the Community education and training campaign.
AIM HIGH is the Business in the Community campaign to persuade employers to work with schools and colleges to raise aspirations and achievement of the national targets for education and training - the benchmark for Britain'scompetitiveness in the Year 2000.
Launched four years ago, it has been sponsored by BT for two years and now has the backing of more than 150 companies committed to the BITC 10-point programme to raise aspirations through: * Compacts
* Curriculum development
* Working in key skills
* Support of parents and governors
* Work experience
* Teacher and management development
* Careers guidance
* Out-of-school activities
* Academic and vocational education 14-19
Companies can enter themselves for an award or be nominated by a school, college or an education business partnership. Local awards are given to companies in 12 regions (see below). Seven, picked for the prestigious national awards, are profiled on this page and page 19. Evidence of improving schools is reviewed on page 20.
The seven national award categories are: national curriculum support; teacher and management development; extra-curricular support; tackling achievement in a disadvantaged community; basic skills in primary schools; special educational needs, and the best entry from a small company. Companies winning national awards receive a certificate and a cheque for Pounds 500 which goes to the school that nominated them. Regional winners receive Pounds 250.
Judges looked for evidence of the impact on student performance; efforts to improve the effectiveness of the school or college; real partnerships between education and outside organisations and the extent to which the skills of employees were used. One-off schemes were not enough. The judges demanded evidence of mutual benefits to the business and to the development of teachers and managers. Under-achievement had to be seen to be tackled, and the impact observed had to be sustainable in the views of the judges.
As can be seen in the case studies, considerable evidence is emerging to show that Aim High has improved pupil and student achievement,sometimes dramatically.