Heads, Teachers and Industry is a charity which sets up links between senior teachers and business to foster a better understanding of the workplace. It sets up business placements of up to a year for state and private teachers - who must return to education and not be "poached" for permanent jobs. They are provided with a mentor to check their progress and the school is usually given funds to find cover.
The TES talked to staff who went on the scheme.
Sue Folkard, head of Hereward community college, Peterborough, spent a year working on human resources projects with Bass from 1999-2000:
"It was such a good experience. I was working on my own initiative, going to team meetings. I supervised New Deal trainees across the company which meant giving presentations all around the country.
"The amount of personal development and management training available amazed me. My previous school was involved in a merger and I became part of the project task force. I also worked on the Birmingham Education Action Zone.
"I could not have done these things before. Business invests in the development of its people but in education we are still reliant on goodwill. To leave education was a temptation but in the end I found nothing else which really appealed."
Bronwen Freake, acting head of Greenbank Residential School, Northwich, Cheshire, spent a year working on risk management with the Health and Safety Executive from 1998-99:
"It was probably the most important thing I have ever done from a professional point of view. There is nothing to beat real experience. I found out things about myself I did not know previously. In education we are so face to face with what we do that we do not often step back.
"It is an incredible boost for your confidence. People had more respect for my good qualities than I did myself. Many people have used it as a springboard for other things and the temptation was there. But I have used the experience to redefine my career and abilities.
"I was a deputy head and now I am in an acting headship. It has improved my confidence and I have come back to teaching, enthused, enriched, invigorated and inspired."
Ian Taylor, deputy head, Hayesfield Upper School, Bath, spent a year with Lloyds TSB from 1996-97, working on the roles of staff within the organisation:
"I realised that teachers are skilful people who work very hard. In business there are not the same pressures - for instance, you can manage your own time. Teachers are constantly being told to go into the real world but they could command double the salary in business.
"When you step away from things in this way you find that it changes your way of thinking. It made me realise that you must have the space to look at the big picture. Management can be confused in schools. However, when I got back into school I became head of the sixth form and exams officer, and someone else took over staff development. It was hard to carry over the work I had been doing in that area."
For more information contact HTI on 02476 410104 or visit its website at www.hti.org.uk