Q6. How does your school ensure that pupils receive relevant experiences of work places to help them to make career decisions?
Why is this important?
Having multiple experiences of workplaces helps young people to understand a variety of work roles and the behaviour and employability skills required for work. Not only can young people gain much needed knowledge and understanding, experience of work places can help some young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop the networks which their more affluent peers enjoy. This in turn can lead to part-time work, internships and sponsorship that extend aspiration and support transitions.
The Department for Education has produced guidance on work experience for young people aged 16-193 which indicates that all young people on post-16 study programmes should receive work experience as part of their programmes. Further to this, government statutory guidance4 in 2015 indicates that every pupil should have quality first-hand experiences of the work place through work visits, work shadowing, and / or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities and expand their networks.
Department for Education research5 describes how different schools provide work-related activities and can help schools think through the issues they face in organising their own provision.
Barriers to consider
The processes surrounding work experience need to be managed carefully to ensure that inequalities are addressed and all young people are given opportunities to expand their horizons. Some pupils might face specific challenges, such as not having relevant contacts in job fields they are interested in, or the expectations of peers and family that they pursue a particular career.
A 2016 nationally representative survey of students in years 9-13 in England asked young people specifically about organising work experience6. The most common barriers cited were: (1) didn’t know how to find opportunities, (2) couldn’t find relevant opportunities, (3) school didn’t offer work experience, and (4) didn’t have the right contacts.
What strategic questions should you ask the senior leadership team about providing experiences of work places?
- What is the school’s approach to providing pupils with direct experience of the work place?
- What are the barriers which young people in your school face in accessing experiences of workplaces? How are they managed?
- How are experiences of the work place monitored, reviewed and evaluated?
- How does the school ensure that it addresses social inequality and supports students without networks to gain meaningful opportunities.
Case study of good practice
Essential resources to support your school achieve this Benchmark
- DfE reseach
7 found that identifying suitable employers was an integral part of setting-up successful placements, and many work experience coordinators relied on individual staff systems and contacts. You may be in a position yourself to offer work experience placements, or have people in your network who you can share this information with. Your school can also share this guide with employers it works with.
- The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development has produced a useful guide for employers on maximising the impact of work experience placements for pupils which you can use or pass on to contacts who may be in a position to offer work placements to students in your school.
- The Careers and Enterprise Company has Enterprise Co-ordinators based in Local Enterprise Partnerships. These individuals can link schools to Enterprise Advisers in their area – local business people who have volunteered to help schools develop their understanding of work places through a variety of activities including work experience.
- The Health and Safety Executive provides guidance on how to keep pupils safe during work experience placements.
Additional resources to support your school to achieve this Benchmark
- The National Development Team for Inclusion have produced information for schools on providing work experience for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities
- Developing work experience programmes:
- The Barclays Lifeskills Programme includes a guide for schools on setting up programmes of work experience
- The NFER has produced a guide for providers of 16-19 education on developing programmes of work experience
2 Le Gallais and Hatcher (2014). How School Work Experience Policies Can Widen Student Horizons or Reproduce Social Inequality. London. Education Employers Taskforce
3 DFE (2013). Post-16 work experience as a part of 16 to 19 study programmes Departmental advice for post-16 education and training providers. London. TSO
4 DFE (2015). Careers guidance and inspiration in schools Statutory guidance for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff. London. TSO
5 DFE (2017). Work experience and related activities in schools and colleges Research report. London. TSO.
6 Wellcome (2017). Science Education Tracker. London (https://wellcome.ac.uk/what-we-do/our-work/young-peoples-views-science-education)
7 DFE (2017). Work experience and related activities in schools and colleges Research report. London. TSO.
Other questions in Careers
- Q1. How does your school develop, manage and implement its careers programme?
- Q2. How does your school provide opportunities for pupils to learn from career and labour market information?
- Q3. How does your school address the career guidance needs of each pupil?
- Q4. How do teaching staff in your school link curriculum learning to careers?
- Q5. How does your school ensure that pupils have multiple encounters with employers and employees which enrich their understanding of working practices?
- Q7. How does your school ensure that pupils receive relevant encounters with further and higher education and work-based learning providers to help them make career decisions about future learning options?
- Q8. How does your school ensure that all pupils have access to the personal guidance they require to help them make informed career decisions?