Business Class: An Evaluation

This research looked at the strengths of the Business Class model and its impact on participating schools and businesses in the North West where the model was conceived and developed.

This research was commissioned from The Cass Business School, with the aim of understanding the impact of the model's targeted, sustainable and holistic approach to education/employer partnerships and to ascertain where it could be developed more fully to provide even greater support to a broader range of schools and organisations.

The evaluation of Business Class has focussed on two levels: 

• A strategic review of whether the programme’s high-level outcomes are being achieved including the scalability and value added by the Business Class framework in generating partnership activity;

• A ‘snap-shot’, cross-sectional review of the current partnership clusters using both existing data and data collected especially for the evaluation.

Evaluation methods included questionnaires and a separate literature review.

The main findings were grouped under the following key questions:

  • Is there evidence that partnering with schools is beneficial?
  • Does the quality of the partnership matter?
  • Does Business Class demonstrate quality attributes?
  • Does Business Class improve school performance?
  • Does Business Class assist in the realisation of Business Objectives?
  • What are the barriers to progress for participating schools and businesses?

Additionally, recommendations for further development were made.

Overall, the evaluation found that Business Class is proving successful improving educational attainment, employability and school governance, as well as providing more robust foundations for partnerships between schools and businesses, rooted in a relationship of trust. It is also contributing significantly towards the corporate social responsibility strategies of the businesses involved.

Key findings
  • Schools considered that the programme had improved students’ academic achievement by 38%.
  • Both schools and businesses thought the programme had improved students’ employability by over 40%.
  • Optimism about the sustainability of the partnership increased by 57% and 32% for schools and businesses respectively