In Wales, the newly privatised careers service led by Mike Money is growing. Mike Prestage reports
Fifteen primary school heads met senior managers in local companies in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan to identify areas in which business people can help in management skills and techniques.
A few days later it was the turn of four headteachers from local secondary schools to meet executives from the Midland Bank and KPMG, a leading accountancy firm, to see what benefits could accrue from forming links.
At Amersham International, a company at the cutting edge of bio-technology, sixth-formers and graduates get the chance to use equipment that would not normally be available to them while doing work experience.
Twenty-four schools have taken part in an enterprise scheme in which local business executives helped them establish their own trading companies in school. And local employers have also been enlisted to provide mock interviews to help prepare young people for the realities of life.
All the links were promoted by the local Education Business Partnership, which for the last two years in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan has been part of a private company called CareerPaths. Mike Money, its education business development manager, says: "There needs to be a major input from industry in the way the curriculum is delivered and in raising the awareness of working in industry among young people in school. We want to see tangible benefits from the links." He identifies staff development, team management, marketing of the school, finance and planning as areas where links with industry can be of benefit.
For its partnership work, the Welsh Office this year provides Pounds 385, 000. A further Pounds 65,000 comes from the local training and enterprise council. Industry provides Pounds 84,000 in cash or kind. And CareerPaths provides Pounds 45,000. Since it was started in 1993, the service has grownconsiderably.
The importance of schools working in partnership with industry was underlined when the Chief Inspector of Schools published guidelines for the inspection of primary and secondary schools in Wales and made clear such links would be an area subject to evaluation.
The inspection guidance schedule says: "Many schools are likely to provide evidence of one or two occasional links with industry, often in the form of one-off competitions or a small gift. The real test of a school's successful partnership is the extent to which links have been seen in terms of the learning outcomes which can be achieved as a result" It adds that such partnerships should not be viewed as an extra, but should be seen as "having a significant part to play in enhancing pupils' learning experiences, in improving teachers' resources and in raising standards of performance".
Mr Money identifies key areas where efforts can be concentrated to help both schools and their partners in industry. The partnership hopes to target 200 new teachers every year. Over the years good relationships have built up with secondary heads and he thinks most are much more aware of the opportunities.
The menu on offer includes a teacher placement service where teachers get the chance to spend some time in industry. To date 10 per cent of the teaching staff in the EBP's area have been involved. It has proved particular popular with those delivering GNVQs and for primary teachers looking at cross-curricula themes.
Motivation strategies can be delivered through Compact schemes where employers agree to make jobs or training available to students who achieve set goals, mentoring and student tutoring with certain schools being linked with local industry.
There are eight secondary schools involved, trying to encourage pupils from non-traditional higher education backgrounds to go into HE. There is a bid to raise the standards and improve the qualifications of young people, with GNVQ students being targeted in particular. Industrialists are encouraged to visit the classroom. The Inland Revenue are involved and see benefits for staff development.
Another important role is providing work experience. CareerPaths has a central database containing 1,485 employers and links with modems in schools. Available places can be quickly identified.
Mr Money said that for industry there were advantages in developing links with their local community through the school as well as the chance to influence the training of pupils who may become future employees.