Here, Lea Gilbert, Head Teacher of Gildrege House provides you with the answers you need…

How can schools like yours benefit from business networking?

Free schools are much like academies in the current educational landscape: free from local authority control, they manage their own finances, with funding from central government. We also manage our own pay and conditions for staff and all aspects of human resources. As such, we need to be particularly business-minded, ensuring excellent financial management in order to sustain the best educational provision for our students. This is becoming more challenging in the current landscape of educational funding, forcing schools to be collaborative, creative and innovative in their approaches to everything from income generation to staffing and resource management.

It’s so important to get careers advisers and head teachers talking to people in business about what each sector needs. We have a big responsibility in schools these days to ensure that careers guidance is embedded into the curriculum but, more importantly, that we are involving external agencies – advisers, work experience providers, employers, business mentors – to inspire and support young people as they plan and prepare for their future careers. Even if the latest Ofsted Handbook didn’t make this clear – and it certainly does – school leaders have a big responsibility to develop initiatives that foster employability and skills which help children to get the best start and be prepared for the next stage in their employment and training. With schools’ limited resources, this can be a challenge, which is why it’s brilliant that the Education Business Partnership to a certain extent is doing it for us. We would be crazy not to take full advantage of the high quality opportunities they offer to bring businesses, education, students and, very importantly, their parents together in such a positive way.