Students 'could benefit' from closer ties between schools and businesses

A three-point plan from an influential right-wing think-tank has been released, aimed at making the British education system better.

The report calls for closer ties between businesses and technical-based educational establishments, using some of our European cousins as role models.

Policy Exchange's new report, Technical Matters, has welcomed the Government's introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) as a new secondary school academic qualification and its focus to raise academic standards in every school.

But the report also warns that many students are suffering because an over-emphasis on traditional academic studies, with little alternative being offered. This, it says, can lead to higher drop-out rates.

Technical Matters called for greater employer involvement in education at a local level. It citied the key role played by firms based in Germany and Holland, where high quality vocational courses are on offer and youth unemployment rates are much lower.

It says such close partnerships assure quality and match up firms' labour market needs with the studies provided by education centres. This is done by ensuring the curriculum is pertinent to future jobs and incorporates high-quality instruction to industrial-level standards. In Britain at present, it is feared some employers complain about skills shortages, particularly in the fields of science and technology.

The report also calls for more intense competition among academic and technical education providers and apprenticeships to last for three years with the majority of people's learning time being spent in work-based training.

Dr Owen Corrigan, the author's report, said that an alternative technical route through the education system could benefit many students whose needs are not being met at the moment.

Dr Corrigan added: "Such a system could also benefit employers who complain about skills shortages."

The think-tank report's conclusion that too much weight is being put on academic studies in educational establishments up and down the country is shared by the general public.

A YouGov poll of 1,624 people published in tandem with the Technical Matters report revealed that nearly half the public (47%) thought there was too much school emphasis on academic subjects and not enough on practical, job-related training.

Just over one in five (21 per cent) believed that the balance was about right.

Copyright Press Association 2013