How to get the most out of business engagement with schools

Post author image. Guest Editor
Read about the most effective ways for businesses to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students, through curriculum collaboration, work placements, mentoring and a focus on essential skills.

Even before COVID-19 there was a gap of 26 percentage points between the likelihood of disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils in achieving a grade 4 or above in English and maths at GCSE1. On top of this, the government’s analysis has identified that schools with high levels of disadvantage have seen higher levels of ‘learning loss’ as a result of COVID-19 when compared with other schools2.

Businesses have a vital role to play in the work required to close these gaps. An Education and Employers study has shown that engagement with the world of work increases both the attitudes and GCSE results of students, with a randomised control trial showing that students receiving careers interventions increased their revision hours and were more likely to outperform their predicted grades3. Business in the Community’s (BITC) Employment and Skills campaign has highlighted the most effective ways for businesses to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students, through curriculum collaboration, work placements, mentoring and a focus on essential skills – those highly transferable skills like communication, problem solving and teamwork.

There are also proven benefits to businesses in providing school volunteering opportunities for their staff. As a result of volunteering in education, 80% or more volunteers report benefits for their communication, influencing and relationship skills; with over half also reporting benefits for leadership and other skills. In addition to this 68% reported greater motivation at work4.

Taking the right approach

At BITC we believe it is vital for businesses to engage with schools in a strategic way – targeting the schools and students most in need of support, aligning their engagement with business priorities, and assessing the impact of their interventions. Our expert community advisers use our Business Class framework to support our member businesses to create mutually beneficial partnerships with schools that support students and provide clear and tangible impacts against core business priorities.

As an example of our work in this area, BITC is currently supporting a property investment and development company to redesign their work experience programme so that it provides a more inclusive offer to young people from diverse backgrounds and creates a local talent pipeline for the company. This strategic approach ensures that the programme both targets the young people who need it most and provides a tangible impact against a business priority.

Read BITC’s Quality Work Placements in the New Normal toolkit, to learn how to offer an accessible, inclusive, and quality experiences.

Want to find out more?

Join BITC and a panel of employer experts to discuss how and why skills development is going be central to the UK’s recovery from COVID-19. Register for BITC’s Skills: a time for questions webinar to ensure current and future workforces have the skills they need to gain and sustain employment as we build back responsibly.

Contact BITC’s Advisory Services to find out how we can support you to engage more strategically with schools and colleges.

what if no-one was left behind?


  1. Nye, P (2020) GCSE results 2020: Did attainment gaps increase?, FFT Education Datalab
  2. Department for Education (2021) Pupils’ progress in the 2020 to 2021 academic year: interim report
  3. Kashefpakdel, Dr Elnaz et al (2019) Motivated to achieve: How encounters with the world of work can change attitudes and improve academic achievement
  4. Education and Employers (2021) The Value of Volunteering