It’s all too easy, when you’re steeped in the world of education, to lose sight of what is happening in the world outside the classroom, so it’s important to remind ourselves every now and again what the purpose of education is – to create the adults of tomorrow.
That’s why Nene Education Trust has been more than happy to play a pivotal role in the Northamptonshire Schools and Business Alliance. The group was founded a couple of years ago to bring the two sectors together to see what each can learn from the other.
Driving the formation of the alliance was Ben Thomas, from All Things Business, who has stated many times his mantra that Business Needs Education and Education Needs Business. And that makes perfect sense.
If education is not equipping young people with the skills they need to enter the workplace – with academic qualifications and also as fully rounded individuals with good personal and communication skills – then business will suffer. Similarly, if businesses are able to communicate to schools what they are looking for, in general or with regard to their specific sector, or to meet local skills shortages, and support them in delivering that through the curriculum, then we end up with a better outcome.
Currently, the Northamptonshire Schools and Business Alliance meets quarterly and attracts 30 to 40 individuals from organisations across the county. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me, and for the Trust as a whole, to look out more into the business world and find opportunities there.
Ben Thomas said: “I have always been passionate about business and education working together, and supporting links between the two. If businesses are going to get the workforce they need for the future, they need to make sure education is well-equipped and has the knowledge to meet those needs.
“It’s in everyone’s interest to collaborate and make sure children get the best possible education and are ready to play an important part in the world of work once they finish school.”
The traditional way for businesses to get involved in supporting schools is by offering work experience or coming in to schools to give careers talk. But wouldn’t it be great if local businesses could be involved in the school curriculum development?
For example, we have a massive logistics sector in Northamptonshire and I’d love for them to have input into our schools and give young people a clear idea what the logistics sector looks like.
There’s a statistic you often hear quoted that says that approximately 92% of children starting school now will go on to do a job that doesn’t exist yet. As educationalists we are preparing children for the unknown. That’s where we need business to come in and help us. It’s about relating education to the real world.
Every day, I learn from people in the education sector but I can also learn so much from people in business. I find it an enormous benefit to work closely with people like Ben Thomas, and Jon Thorpe from ACS, people who have built successful businesses, to learn from them about people development – how to get the best out of people, how to support people and develop leadership skills.
All sectors face common challenges, so wouldn’t it be hugely impactful and rewarding for leaders from across the county to come together and learn from one another?
Jon Thorpe said: “We’ve always been happy to be a part of the Northamptonshire Schools and Business Alliance because it makes perfect sense for business and education to work together to create the workforce we are going to need in the future. There’s much to be learned on both side, and anything that facilitates that is only to be welcomed.”
Tom Cliffe, who runs TRACK NN in Northampton, which supports autistic people to access employment through training, support services and creating opportunities, added: “Having spent a decade working in education, and recently set up my own business I have seen first-hand the need to support not just engagement between education and business, but to build lasting relationships between the two.
‘This is not only our future workforce we are developing, it is the leaders of the future, and it is crucial that we work together to ensure future economic success. The Alliance is already building these relationships, and I would encourage everyone to get involved and help make a lasting difference.”
Sooner rather than later, we hope, our world will resemble some ‘normality’. Dickens said ‘It’s always something, to know you’ve done the most you could. But, don’t leave off hoping, or it’s of no use doing anything. Hope, hope to the last’.
We dearly hope that businesses will continue to support our young people in Northants, especially in these tough times. We’d love to see the Northamptonshire Schools and Business Alliance really push forward in 2022 and build on what we’ve already done, so if there are any businesses who would like to find out more, or join us at our next meeting, we’d love to hear from you.
Nene Education Trust is a multi-academy trust comprising Newton Road School, Rushden; Windmill Primary, Raunds; Stanwick Primary; Raunds Park Infants; St. Peter’s CE Junior; Woodford CE Primary; Redwell Primary, Wellingborough and Manor School, Raunds.
For further information about the Nene Education Trust, visit neneeducationtrust.org.uk
Find out more about the Northamptonshire Schools & Business Alliance by emailing