Employer engagement and work experience are critical to achieving top grades at secondary school

Employer engagement and work experience are critical to achieving top grades at secondary school

The FINANCIAL -- Secondary school teachers overwhelmingly believe that employer engagement, careers advice and work experience have a direct impact on improving exam results, research published on November 8 has found.

Nine out of 10 secondary school teachers (93%) say that work experience and employer related activities can help students to do better in exams. Teachers also said that one in five pupils (20%) in a typical year group today have positively benefitted from these activities in school.

The findings come from polling undertaken by YouGov as part of a joint report by the charity Education and Employers and LifeSkills created with Barclays.

Today’s publication reveals that the students most likely to benefit were those who were uncertain about their future, as well as “borderline achievers”. They also felt that the impact was more noticeable with girls than boys.

Successful work experience placements are believed to have the greatest impact on improving academic attainment, with over a quarter of teachers ranking it as their first choice. This is followed closely by employer-led sessions such as career events with employee volunteers.

While the sentiment was shared across the state and independent sector, the majority of teachers believed that employer engagement in the most disadvantaged schools had the highest impact.

Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel, Head of Research at Education and Employers and one of the report’s authors, said: “Over half of teachers felt that employer engagement helped students understand the relevance of education to their future careers.

“For many students, making a connection between the world of work and what they are learning motivates them to study harder. This translates into better exam results.

“We often get asked whether there is a link to better academic achievement. This study indicates that there most definitely is a meaningful link.”

Today’s report builds on previous research published earlier this year from Education and Employers and LifeSkills which found students are 86% less likely to become NEET if they experience four or more contacts with employers before leaving school. The same research shows young people with higher volumes of encounters with the world of work will benefit from a wage premiums of up to £3,500.

Kirstie Mackey, Director of LifeSkills at Barclays UK, said: “The world of work is changing and we all have a responsibility to ensure young people are equipped with the skills they need – and the ones British businesses need – to move forward successfully into the 21st century workplace.

“Through LifeSkills, teachers tell us of the real difference it makes for young people when employers visit the classroom and for the first time through this report we can now see the significant impact businesses in the UK can make on the academic attainment of young people when working together with schools and teachers.

“Today’s publication reinforces why a clear framework for employer-led interactions is needed and we must refocus our efforts on getting careers and work experience right in the UK with responsibility shared across educators, business and Government.”

Earlier this year, research conducted by Education and Employers showed that primary teachers have similar views regarding the impact of employer engagement on improved outcomes in the primary phase.

In that study, 90% of primary school teachers surveyed thought that volunteers from the world of work coming into schools can help challenge gender stereotypes that children have around the jobs that people do and the subjects they study, and that this subsequently improves children’s academic achievement.