Work Experience Placements
During the development of Key stage 4 we tried to place all pupils for work experience in a placement that is relevant and purposeful towards their personal development, employability skills set and a place to learn more about a particular trade. We began by finding placements independently through associations or own finds from the pupils and staff. However we began to work in partnership with Trident Newham (now Newham Education Business Partnership) to utilise their contacts and offer a broader and more established placement for our pupils.
We still use NEBP to provide pupils with quality placements that are monitored and reviewed by an outside provider and internally through our school. They are also linked with 15 Billion and the borough 14-19 programme which helps us to use all available links for our pupils and teaches them about partnership work.
We offered pupils in year 10 extended placements which meant that they would access a regular place of work one day each week and develop a role and a specific learning path as each month passes. This helped individuals build confidence and skill in a specific area or vocation and develop personal employability strengths. Some pupils stayed at the same placement between October – May or even a whole year. Some pupils requested two or a maximum of three placements which gave students a variety of work placements.
Year 11 pupils have been offered week long placements which they have specifically requested in relation to the preferred area of interest following a greater insight during year 10 in both academic options and vocational choices that they may have experienced during key stage 4.
We are currently changing the offer of work placements by removing the extended placements and structuring two separate week long placements on two occasions through the academic year (October and January). This gives students more depth at the placements and we can monitor progress and strengths closely in class settings and on a 1:1 development basis. They also receive a review from the placements that becomes part of their CV and National Record of achievement on leaving school. This also gives more staff the opportunity to monitor and support students who may not be as confident or who may experience difficulties during these placements.
The work experience programme is valued highly by the school, parents and the pupils as it offers opportunities that our students have traditionally missed out on and generally lack confidence in. Despite work experience being non statutory now we regard it as instrumental in preparing our students adequately for the world of employment, training or higher education. Research also indicates that pupils who have had a varied opportunity to experience work placements are more able to manage employment in the future. We have seen pupil’s self-confidence, motivation, ambition and engagement in academic work increase following successful work placements. We also acknowledge that the pupils who are not as successful in their placements or who do not manage them as well are often struggling at being ‘work ready’ for a number of reasons and as pupils begin work placements early in year 10 and continue through to year 11 we can address the reasons or concerns and pupils still have another opportunity to experience the world of work.
We have developed some good links with independent providers who have been happy to provide a placement for a student with specific interests or needs and this remains an area fir further development. Our aim would be to establish strong independent links with small local business alongside larger companies who would be willing to work in a longer term partnership with the school. The scrutiny of the pupils and their progress remains high and staff complete outreach support notes to micro-manage each personalised pathway to help communicate strengths and weaknesses so that parents, other agencies, staff and pupils are all supporting the transition and options for each year 11 student leaving.