Why businesses must engage with schools during the recovery from COVID-19
Rachael Saunders, Education Director at Business in the Community, on why business engagement with education is vital during the ‘new normal’ following the COVID-19 pandemic
We finally have guidance from the Department for Education that it intends for schools to open for all children from September. But among the bubbles and risks of local lockdown, it seems likely it will continue to be challenging for partner organisations, including businesses, to engage.
Schools may not be teaching the whole curriculum until summer 2021, time in school will be more squeezed than ever and social distancing rules will continue.
At the same time, children, teachers and the whole community will be adjusting – for many, having had six months apart. Rites of passage have been missed and there is a new normal to adjust to.
We know that the attainment gap for disadvantaged children, which had been slowly narrowing, is likely to have opened again during lockdown, with digital exclusion adding to the challenges many families have faced.
“For businesses, taking a commitment to improve how they engage with schools will form a core part of how we build back better from COVID-19”
In this context, it is more important than ever that we are flexible, and work alongside teachers and school leaders to adapt. It is more important than ever that young people can see opportunities for their future, and role models to aspire to. For businesses, taking a commitment to improve how they engage with schools will form a core part of how we build back better from COVID-19 to change the expectations and impact of responsible business.
Our Businesses Working Within the Curriculum report sets out the way forward, with clear recommendations on how businesses can partner with schools to tackle the attainment gap and engage and inspire all learners. These include:
- contextualised learning, which goes deeper and recaps content from the teacher
- sustained business engagement to build confidence and aspiration
- businesses contributing to reinforcing the right behaviours and attitudes for learning
- training and immersion that help businesses and schools understand one another better
- involving parents in relationships with businesses.
We will be piloting projects to test these findings with schools from September.
Take a look at the events listings to find out how you can be involved.