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25 February 2016

How business and schools can work together

teacher and children

How do I approach a school? How much resource will I need to commit? Where do I find local businesses to inspire pupils? Do small firms have the time?

These are the types of practical questions that across Scotland prevent schools and smaller businesses from working together. And it was these questions we wanted to examine to get more firms and schools working together for the benefit of the local economy.

We’ve pulled together the key points from speaking to small businesses in our research about how to develop school-business relationships.

1. Schools & pupils initiating contact makes all the difference 

Smaller businesses are often hard pressed to dedicate time to working with school so pupils and teachers taking that first step can take the pressure off:

“Schools have approached us because they are interested in what we do or we have students approaching us who are interested in getting into politics or journalism. This works best because then we have students who will really enjoy their time with us.”

"Schools tend to approach us... we get a letter at the beginning of the year saying that they are interested in working with us... we don't have the time to approach the schools directly."

Scotland graph on means of businesses engaging with schools

2. Intermediary organisations are useful too

It’s not just schools that can make it easier; other organisations can help:

“I got involved with my local school through Young Enterprise Scotland… I have a personal contact on the board so became a member and then was linked with the school."

“Recently we’ve been approached by Skills Development Scotland. They came to us with a list of schools who are interested in sending work experience students to us which is really helpful as it allows for planning.”

3. Too much is reliant on personal contacts

A lot of our businesses told us that their experience of working with a school relied on a personal connections:

“I approached the school but I was a member of the Parent Council so I had prior contact with the school, they knew me and my business… the Parent Council is useful for forming connections with schools.”

Although this contact is great, it leaves many businesses that do not have a personal contact at the school without a clear way in. There needs to be a formal and easy way for businesses, with or without a personal connection, to get involved.

4. It can be a bit intimidating… but we’re here to help

Some small businesses reported that they found the experience a little bit intimidating:

“At the moment the process of approaching a school is very daunting to a small business. We don’t know who to approach or what to ask – and we don’t have the resources to figure this out.”

However fear not, FSB is here to help! Download our template letter for businesses to make that first step working with schools a bit easier.

Any questions? Just get in touch! 

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