What you can do
- Push pupils to apply to the best universities: research shows that secondary teachers underestimate the number of state school pupils who do manage to win places at Oxford and Cambridge. Almost half of state school teachers do not recommend their brightest pupils to apply.
- Be aware of other issues, including housing and health, which might be having an impact on pupils' attainment. Connexions advisers can offer help to pupils and refer them to other services.
- Encourage pupils to develop the soft skills and presentation skills valued by employers.
- Run enterprise days and competitions to develop pupils' knowledge of business and enterprise, such as the "Make Your Mark with a Tenner" initiative. www.makeyourmark.org.uk
- Bring in guest speakers from different professions and walks of life to increase pupils' knowledge about the careers that are available to them.
FIVE TIPS FOR SCHOOLS
- Be clear with business partners about what you want from them. Draw up plans of how much contact there will be during the academic year, and when and what will happen.
- Give pupils the chance to do more than traditional one- or two-week blocks of work experience. Work shadowing, mentoring schemes and community projects all build readiness for employment.
- Consider appointing a member of staff to deal with business links as their full-time job: other schools that have done so claim it has reaped benefits. With the introduction of diplomas, better co-ordination with businesses will be needed.
- If struggling to raise business sponsorship to become a specialist school, call on support from the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. It has handed out almost pound;8 million to schools in this position.
- Develop careers awareness from primary school onwards in a bid to raise aspirations.