Published January 2023, the What Applied Learning Really Looks Like report highlights several successful case studies to show teachers and policymakers what applied learning actually looks like in practice – particularly in cases where time and resources are limited. Rather than just being a standalone, extracurricular activity, the report shows how applied learning can be integrated into school timetables and across the curriculum, to make its benefits available to all students, regardless of their area or background.
The report sets out concrete examples of applied learning in action to inspire teachers and help them articulate their vision to colleagues, managers, and parents, as well as how headteachers and senior leadership teams can support them. It also recommends that policymakers help spread best practice in applied learning, by:
• Providing a small pool of seed funding for schools to get applied learning schemes off the ground;
• Creating knowledge exchanges through events and conferences, for best-practice in applied learning to be shared between schools;
• Recognising and celebrating schools that have pioneered applied learning;
• Emphasising preparation for adulthood throughout the entire school curriculum;
• Encouraging and making it easier for businesses and non-profits to reach out to schools to offer their support.
Speaking at the report’s launch, Justine Greening, the former Education Secretary, has praised the report which reveals how applied learning can be more successfully implemented in schools.
Greening said the research shows how applied learning can play a crucial role in delivering on Rishi Sunak’s ambition to give every child the highest possible standard of education, as was set out by the Prime Minister earlier in January 2023. She also noted that applied learning can drive stronger social mobility and levelling up, and ultimately called on the government to give it greater recognition and support.
Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, also commented: “Too many young people are leaving education without the confidence and skills they need to be able to adapt and reinvent themselves in an ever changing world” and also called on the government and education sector to “extend applied learning’s opportunities to all schools, to back our budding entrepreneurs and ensure that all young people can benefit.”
Sharon Davies, CEO of Young Enterprise, said: “In the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever before that we provide young people with real-world learning opportunities to develop their confidence, attitudes and key employability skills to help build their futures.
Our research tells us that 96% of teachers believe that being able to apply learning in real-world contexts is important. Through this report, we urge policymakers, educators, communities, and the government to recognise the fantastic work already taking place in schools and work together on a renewed push to increase opportunities for young people to apply their learning in schools across the country.”
Dr Anton Howes, Head of Innovation Research at The Entrepreneurs Network, and author of What Applied Learning Really Looks Like, said: “This report shows how applied learning can greatly improve students’ engagement, passion for learning, and preparation for adulthood. What is needed now is to spread that success to schools all over the country. By highlighting how some schools have achieved it, in ways that are frankly inspiring, and which minimise pressure on teacher time and school resources, this report shows how the benefits of applied learning can be made available to all.”