Are you ready to ELBA? Driving social mobility by building confidence and passing on knowledge
On Friday we all heard about the unfortunate mistake with the spelling test papers for primary school pupils which led to the test being abandoned for this year. Cue celebrations from Year 2 across the land. As a long standing governor of primary schools I have seen tests come and go, and this latest incident prompted some thoughts about testing and benchmarking in education in general.
Tests and exams have been around as long as schools have existed. In terms of social mobility, an objective test which shows what you are capable of, set against standards which are recognised and respected, should be a great boost to social mobility. What you know and what you can do counting for more than who you are and where you come from.
Unfortunately, as we have commented before that’s not always the case. Reports this month from the House of Lords (“Overlooked and Left Behind” #HLSMC) and the Institute of Fiscal Studies (@TheIFS) show that no matter how well some students do at school and backed up with a good degree, their family background and the university they went to still counts for more than their talent and ambition when it comes to getting a job and earnings after graduation.
ELBA business partners see the problem and want to do something about it, and they can also see that we need to start at an early age if we are going to help those who do not have the same advantages as others. This week I saw the impact of what ELBA business partners are achieving, at three levels of education. Firstly, I was at a primary school in Tower Hamlets with RSA, setting up their activity for Volunteering Week in June. Helping to improve the outdoor teaching areas supports science and learning in general, and working with the children on the activity will help build their confidence and ability to interact well with adults.
Then I saw the early stages of Zurich’s initiative to support financial literacy among young people. Working with a group of Year 9 girls they were taking them through the pitfalls and benefits of an increasingly on-line way of managing our money. The girls were set a challenge at the end of the day, and together with other schools there will be a big finale at Zurich’s offices in May. Again, it was good to see not only the transfer of important knowledge which we might all take for granted, but also to see how the students gained confidence by working with adults from the world of business.
Finally, I was with a group of recent graduates and post graduate students from four universities in a LinkedIn training session. ELBA is partnering with LinkedIn for Good to help more young people use the power of international networks to overcome barriers which might result from having no family history or links in their chosen professions. We worked with them to think about how they can create their on-line professional brand to best present themselves to potential employers. Key message – when you have built your on-line network, you have to keep it live and use it. Cue much uneasy shuffling from yours truly – I really must do more with the connections I have built up.
So in three examples that’s what our business partners are doing – building confidence, passing on knowledge, improving learning environments and helping build professional networks for those that don’t have them. All grist to the mill at ELBA.