Every year our Year 10s have the chance to experience the world of work with a week-long work experience. They have to be proactive early on in the year and look for a suitable placement, contacting the employer themselves. Placements range from schools, nurseries and supermarkets to art galleries, army barracks and hair/beauty salons. It gives our students the chance to experience a 9-5 job, work as part of a team, take instructions, communicate with customers and colleagues as well as getting an insight into different professions, picking up new skills and perhaps seeing if this is a career for them in the future.
Some placements are local whilst others travel further afield, sorting out their own transport. Some are even out of the county. All students are either visited by a member of staff or receive a phone call to talk through their progress along with speaking to their supervisors. They have a work experience booklet to complete, documenting what they do and targets they wish to meet. This is definitely a worthwhile experience for all involved and really gets our students thinking about careers for the future. Some of our students have written about their experiences:
One pupil worked in a Primary School and said, ‘My work experience was very good and I enjoyed it a lot. I got involved in a variety of activities ranging from PE to Maths etc, and it has definitely made me think about different jobs I would like to do when I leave school and this could be a possible route for me to take.’
Kasey Challenger said, ‘During our week of work experience, I worked at Dereham Church of England Junior Academy as a Teaching Assistant in a Year 4 class. Over the course of the week I met a lot of new people and – although it was scary at first – eventually, I was able to have conversations with them.
My goal for the week was to improve my communication skills as I have always found talking to people quite harrowing. Looking back over the week, I feel proud of how I have put that fear aside and managed to talk to many of the staff working there.
Work experience at a Junior School has helped me to realise how much I enjoy working with children and the part that I most enjoyed as the week progressed was helping them with their work – including: Maths, English and Handwriting.
At the beginning of the week I wasn’t sure about work experience in a Junior School because teaching was not something I saw myself doing in the future. Now I have decided that work experience might be something to keep in mind when I leave High School, and if my first choice doesn’t work out, teaching may be something I want to do. Work experience has helped me to think more seriously about what I want to do, and I really enjoyed it. It has also helped me to overcome the pressure and awkwardness that I feel in social situations.’
Hannah Esplin explains how she found the whole experience, ‘For work experience I went to Knit-Wits, and although it was quite difficult, I found the experience incredibly useful as it gave me an insight into what life is like in the working world. The first few days were a struggle but it didn’t take too long to learn and understand skills such as communication with customers, how to work a cash register and also the valuable skill of being able to remain calm even during what my fellow work experiences and I deemed a disaster, such as doing things in the wrong order at the till. However, our employers for the week were always understanding and ready to help whenever we had an issue. At the beginning of the week I definitely felt rather dishevelled and confused but by the end of the week I felt as though I was working with enthusiasm and am ready to enter the world of work!’
Another student worked at Daisy’s Florist in Dereham and said of her time, ‘My work experience was really good. I learnt so many new things and although I had never thought about going into that field of work, I thoroughly enjoyed all of my time there. I enjoyed meeting all the staff and I have also developed new friendships. Overall my time working there was amazing and I would do it again.’
These are just a few of the experiences of our pupils in the world of work – there were of course, many more. Many thanks to all of the businesses who worked with our Year 10s and gave them the chance to experience a working week.