Why partner with your local school?

Tuesday, 06 Sept 2022

The links between schools and the local business community are well documented from the school’s perspective. The concept of real-world relevance into the curriculum or sponsoring a school’s exciting co-curricular program remains important - no, I will rephrase that, it remains vital in the context of reduced school funding models and the increases in the cost of living. 

The article however is about focussing on the endless opportunities for businesses. Here are my top three:

Corporate Social Responsibility
This term concentrates on a business’s sense of responsibility toward its local community. Many businesses have achieved this with environmental strategies, for example, buying only locally made goods to support the circular economy and reduce transport kilometers. Other businesses have partnered with local schools to supply afternoon tea for students and staff to support homework clubs. Research, from Harvard Business School, concluded that businesses with greater corporate social responsibility outperformed their counterparts in the longer term. This research purported that this process also built pride in the employer, generating team spirit and greater workplace satisfaction.  

World Prepared Workforce
All secondary school graduates should be pathway ready regardless of whether their destination is trade placements, university, TAFE, or directly into the workforce. The evolution of the modern workforce has created the need for primary and secondary schools to design rigorous curriculums that prepare students to enter the post-secondary options of their choice. These curriculum changes focus on the 6Cs: Critical thinking, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Citizenship and Character development on top of the literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy skills required. Businesses need a workforce that are responsive to this requirement but can also support their growth. Our own research shows that students tend to be highly receptive to career education from local people working in their fields. At Bishop Druitt College, this is achieved through Vocational Tuesday (optional opportunities for guest speakers to speak with students at lunchtime every Tuesday), Internships, traditional work experience blocks, excursions to business sites, and careers expos. Career education research indicates that career education with industry experience that is relevant and real-world should occur early and regularly. 

Circular Community Growth
When students achieve their personal goals through their schooling journey, everyone benefits and business involvement helps to show relevance to students. The students are more motivated to get an education and more aware of how it correlates to success beyond the classroom. Research correlates a strong link between business involvement and career education with increased school engagement and reduced dropout rates. And when students see the relevance for pursuing a career in a specific industry, they are motivated not only to stay in school but to do their best. This helps create positive growth within the community in both the short and long term. 

Community connected businesses are vested in schools because of their need for a strong pool of local workers to choose from and consumers who can afford their products. There is a wealth of opportunities available for businesses to partner with their local schools. School and business partnerships create a win-win situation for schools, businesses and, more importantly, our next generation. 

Nick Johnstone

School Business Register - https://www.bdc.nsw.edu.au/our-community/business-directory

Note: The attached resource outlines the most effective 7 key principles of school and business partnerships. The example is for STEM education but the principles are transferable to all businesses.

Resource: https://www.dese.gov.au/australian-curriculum/national-stem-education-resources-toolkit/i-want-know-about-stem-education/how-can-schools-and-businesses-partner-stem-education/school-business-partnerships-work-best-when-they-follow-seven-key-principles