There are many activities and experiences that a student can engage in to make him or her a more ‘rounded’ applicant. However, relevant work experience is increasingly viewed as an essential part of any good application for higher education and the world of work. For candidates equally good on paper applying for courses / jobs, it could well be the work experience which tips the balance in favour of one candidate over the other. This is the case more than ever nowadays given the greater competition for places in higher education and for the job market. Indeed, more and more universities are offering work experience years as part of Higher Education courses and many graduates owe their jobs to such placements. Students who plan to go into medicine, dentistry, teaching or veterinary science have already been advised to secure some form of regular work experience because of the importance given to this in university applications and interviews.
We hope undertaking work experience will allow students to gain greater self-confidence and maturity in preparation for work or further study. Work experience also acts as a ‘check’ ensure the university course they are considering is relevant and also act as motivation to their A level subjects. Work experience should form a substantial part of any personal statement or application.
How to arrange a placement?
Follow this link for a comprehensive guide to the work experience process.
Do I have to do it?
In short, YES, we encourage Year 12 to take on a minimum of 10 days work experience. The link between meaningful work experience and employability seems to grow stronger each year. And now that covid is less of an issue it is likely that employers are offering live placements again.
The most FAQ we get is 'when can I do it?' The answer is:
* Any school holiday from the start of year 12
* Week of 19th or 26th June - this is a repeated teaching week enabling students' flexibility for work experience, open days etc.
* Anytime during your extended summer break (7 weeks) starting 17th July
* At a stretch, October half term holiday....and all holidays beyond.....
Very importantly, try to get away from thinking of work experience as a block of one week at a time. Try to get individual days (eg a set of 3 consecutive Wednesdays in a primary school, as someone in Y12 is doing), or 2 or 3 day spells...and variety.
Students are encouraged to find their own placements and the school will give them guidance as to how to do so.
The intranet contains a presentation with possible work experience placements as well as a google form which must be filled out with relevant insurance documentation once a placement has been organised.
Please note that the school has not vetted or approved the employers listed in these files and that it is the pupils’ and parents’ obligation to ensure that the employer is suitable.
What if I don’t know yet what I want to do in life?
Students may have a very clear / vague or no idea at all of the area of further study / work they may wish to go into so this will affect what – and when - they apply for work experience. The ‘life’ programme should initiate students into considering their futures. Independent guidance can be arranged via the 6th form office.
Is the placement suitable?
As we have said, it is up to the student to organise work experience. Ideally, the placement should fit in with a definite career or higher education plan. Please note that parents and students must ensure that they are happy with the working conditions of the placement (especially Health and Safety). Employers used to taking on work experience students will have health and safety procedures in place. However, if there is any doubt about a particular placement arranged, then the student must not do work experience there. Another placement will need to be found. This also applies to placements where students from the school have gone to in previous years.
The insurance industry has agreed that students on work experience placements should be treated as employees for the purposes of insurance. Such placements must conform to the requirements of the Education Act 1996 and any other regulations in force at the time. Most Employers’ Liability policies will have a definition of “employee” that covers students on work experience placements. You should check your policy documentation to ensure that you are adequately covered. When in doubt, it is always advisable to contact your insurer or the broker who arranged the policy.
If you do not have Employers’ Liability insurance, and you are taking on a student who is not a member of your family, then you must take out Employers’ Liability insurance for the duration of the work experience in order to be covered.
After the placement?
On completion of their work experience, students may like to ask the employer to produce a short testimonial which they can give their tutor in order to inform the reference-writing process for UCAS or a future employer.
For any further information on work experience please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We are working with Unifrog to compile a list of previous work experience providers who would be willing to offer future placements. The link will appear here later this academic year.