The Education and Employers Taskforce was formally launched in October 2009 at Loughborough Primary School in London by the then secretaries of state for Children, Schools and Families and Business, Innovation and Skills. Photos here. While benefiting from initial government funding, the Taskforce was created, from the beginning, as an independent charity. Its creation emerged from the work of the National Council for Educational Excellence (PDF) (NCEE) a committee established in 2007 and then chaired by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown which brought together senior leaders from education and business to grapple with the question of how to make employer engagement in education easier and better for everyone involved. One of the key impetuses for setting up the NCEE was a request in April 2007 to Gordon Brown who was then Chancellor to support the commissioning of an independent study on how business and education could work together more effectively.
The letter (PDF)from Bob Wigley, Chair of the Business in the Community’s (BITC) education committee and John Griffith-Jones, Senior Partner at KPMG stated that there was a great deal of untapped potential with businesses and school often keen to work together but unsure how to do so.
The study which was initiated and led BITC’s Director of Education, Nick Chambers examined how existing education and business links could be improved, simplified and clarified. One area of focus was school Governance. The report written with the help of the University of Bath can be found here: Download Governing Our Schools (PDF)
From the outset the purpose of the Taskforce was clear. Recognising that many existing organisations were successfully undertaking programmes of real value in connecting employers with schools and colleges, the role of the Taskforce would not be to duplicate, but to strategically supplement and enhance existing work by:
- Improving understanding of what works in employer engagement in education
- Co-ordinating activity to optimise impact
- Addressing gaps in delivery
Since 2009, the mission of the charity has remained constant. It works to ensure that every school and college has an effective partnership with employers to provide its young people with the inspiration, motivation, knowledge, skills and opportunities they need to help them achieve their potential and so to secure the UK’s future prosperity.
What we have achieved, 2009 – 2014:
- Since our launch we have brought together an unprecedented alliance of employers, education and government working together to make it considerably easier for partners, from the private, public and third sectors, to work together efficiently, effectively and strategically.
- In 2010 we ran the ‘Visit our Schools and Colleges Campaign’. The idea was very simple – across England, Headteachers invited senior people from private, public and third sector employers to visit their schools and colleges to find out first-hand about education today – the success and challenges and explore how employers could support. Over 700 of employers took part including over 100 chief executives and chairmen from many of the UK’s leading companies. It inspired many new partnerships between secondary schools / colleges and employers and led to some employers working with schools and colleges for the first time.
- Developed Speakers for Schools, turning Robert Peston’s initial idea into a successful programme operating across England, Scotland and Wales. Work started in the spring of 2010 and the scheme was formally launched in October 2011 to coincide with the taskforce’s third anniversary with series of talks including ones by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. It gives state schools and colleges access to more than 1000 speakers of national prominence and the Taskforce supported the programme’s transition into a new independent charity in January 2013: http://www.speakers4schools.org
- Following extensive consultation with partners and other stakeholders during 2011 the charity developed and successfully operationalized a wholly new way (Inspiring the Future) of allowing schools/colleges and employers/employee volunteers to connect directly quickly, easily and at no costs to users. It was formally launched on the 2nd July 2012 at Bishop Challoner School in Tower Hamlets. Speakers included Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Sir Roger Carr, President of the CBI and Chairman of Centrica; Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders and Actor Joanna Lumley. Since the launch 75% of state secondary schools and colleges have signed up together with nearly 15,000 volunteers. The scheme has also secured support from the leaders of the main political parties.
How and why the Taskforce developed Inspiring the Future (PDF)
- In 2014 at the request of the Department for Education the charity led on generating support for the Inspiring Governors Alliance and creating the website www.inspiringgovernors.org. The Alliance aims to celebrate the valuable role played by school governors; increase the number of governing bodies actively seeking to recruit and develop high calibre governors with relevant skills and experience and increase the number of employers supporting staff to volunteer as governors.
- And over the last five years we have undertaken ground-breaking research into the impact and delivery of employer engagement in education, working with leading UK and international academics and researchers from Harvard to the OECD to make relevant and reliable evidence widely accessible to employers, schools and policy makers.
- Thanks to the generosity of partners and donors as well as income generated from research consultancy the charity has moved from being fully reliant on funding from the Department for Education to full financial independence.
Read a selection of our early newsletters: