On 7th July 2014, the Government announced a round of Growth Deals, an aim of which was to give local areas powers and flexibilities to design and deliver local services. As part of this process, six Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) received £100,000 each to deliver Enterprise Adviser pilots. Under these pilots, LEPs would recruit and manage a volunteer network of Enterprise Advisers, who would be plucked from local private, public and voluntary organisations, to advise school leaders on how to better link their schools with local businesses. Each LEP has proposed different models to deliver this activity, and the pilots will run throughout the 2014/15 academic year.
The LEPs participating in the pilot programme are:
• Cornwall & Isles of Scilly • Leeds City Region • New Anglia • Northamptonshire • North East • Sheffield City Region
The pilots were developed in light of Lord Young’s review of enterprise education: ‘Enterprise for All’, published in June 2014. The rationale for this activity is that business employees are willing to volunteer to inspire and advise young people, and schools are keen to receive this support from local employees; but too often these two parties are not well coordinated. Enterprise Advisers would tackle this issue by advising school leaders on how to develop strategies to create long-term partnerships with local businesses and attract local employees to deliver inspirational activity.
It is envisioned that the Enterprise Advisers would act as a critical resource to head teachers, who would be able to draw on the advisers to improve the enterprise and careers activities available to their pupils. Lord Young placed a particular emphasis on the need for this type of intervention in secondary schools, where young people are beginning to consider their career options. However, in the pilot programme some LEPs have decided to engage primary schools as a natural extension to further test the scheme, particularly where there is an existing cluster of schools that could benefit from sharing this resource.
The core model includes a full time Enterprise Coordinator with experience of both business and education who would be employed by the LEP, and would be tasked with recruiting and coordinating the Enterprise Adviser network. However, because of different local circumstances and pre-existing complementary schemes, the pilots have been designed differently in each LEP. For instance, Leeds City Region is focussing its pilot on SMEs and entrepreneurship activity, New Anglia is concentrating its activity on a small geographic area, and Cornwall & Isles of Scilly are developing a system of accreditation to raise match funding and recruit volunteers from local businesses.
The pilots will be thoroughly evaluated to inform any further roll-out of this model. There will be an interim evaluation of the pilots in March/April 2015, with a final evaluation being completed in July/August 2015. Through the evaluation, we plan to assess whether the pilots achieved their initial projections, which models worked well and which did not, any operational issues faced by local areas, and areas for improvement if the pilots were to be rolled out more widely. In particular, we aim to look to analyse how effective the pilots were in engaging disadvantaged and previously disengaged schools and the quality of interactions between Enterprise Advisers, schools and businesses. These factors will be identified through surveys and a series of interviews with local stakeholders, as well as collecting performance data from LEPs.