Private schools should share 'soft skills' to win public benefit, says social mobility report

Panel on Fair Access to the Professions recommends expertise be shared with state schools

The Charity Commission should require charitable independent schools to share their expertise in teaching "soft skills" with state schools as part of its assessment of their public benefit, according to the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions.

The panel, established by Gordon Brown and chaired by former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, released its final report yesterday.

The document, Unleashing Aspiration, says that many top universities and professions put as much emphasis on soft skills, such as presentation, confidence and adaptability, as they do on academic attainment.

It says independent schools are particularly adept at fostering soft skills and extra-curricular activities such as sport, drama and debating. It recommends that they should be required to share their expertise with state schools as part of their public benefit assessment.

The report also recommends that the Government increase its support to third sector organisations such as the Brightside Trust, the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Foundation, which help young people develop soft skills such as team-working, leadership and presentation skills.

Other recommendations from the report:

  • The third sector should be involved - with unions, professions and the Government - in producing a common best practice code for internships. A kitemark for high-quality internships, based on adherence to the code, should also be introduced.
  • A national scheme allowing young professionals to mentor young people should be set up by the professions and the Government. It should involve voluntary organisations and other bodies with "proven experience" of delivering mentoring services.
  • A national "work-taster" scheme for talented A-level students should be established in "top businesses, including the public sector and third sector organisations".


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