Work experience linked to better exam results, teachers claim

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Exam boost: The vast majority of teachers believe that work experience and other employer engagement activities have a positive impact on exam outcomes (Image: Adobe Stock)

Students uncertain about their future and those categorised as “borderline achievers” are the most likely to benefit from employer engagement in schools, research suggests.

A joint study from the charity Education and Employers and the LifeSkills programme has found that the vast majority of teachers believe that work experience and engagement with employers have a direct positive impact on exam results.

Despite this, however, only one in five pupils in a typical year group benefit from employer-led interactions at schools.

Employer-led interactions include work experience, employer-led activities in school and careers guidance and the poll of 824 teachers found that 93 per cent believe these kind of activities to positively affect exam outcomes. The respondents included classroom teachers, middle leaders and heads of department.

It follows previous research from Education and Employers in 2017 which found that students are 86 per cent less likely to become NEET if they experience four or more contacts with employers before leaving education.

The same research showed that young people with higher volumes of encounters with the world of work will benefit from a “wage premiums” of up to £3,500.

Within the raft of employer engagement work, the teachers in the study felt that successful work experience placements had the greatest impact on improving academic attainment, although employer-led sessions such as career events with employee volunteers came a close second.

Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel, head of research at Education and Employers and one of the report’s authors, said: “More than half of teachers felt that employer engagement helped students understand the relevance of education to their future careers.

She continued: “For many students, making a connection between the world of work and what they are learning motivates them to study harder. This translates into better exam results.

“We often get asked whether there is a link to better academic achievement. This study indicates that there most definitely is a meaningful link.”

Education and Employers is an independent, national charity with the aim of providing young people with the motivation, knowledge, skills and opportunities they need to help them achieve their potential.

The charity runs Inspiring the Future, a free national programme that connects employee volunteers with state schools and colleges. Education and Employers also runs the Inspiring Women campaign, where role models from the world of work inspire the next generation of female leaders.


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