Budehaven Community School Year 10s - What a (Work) Experience

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By BudePeeps | Monday, August 13, 2012, 20:37

Each July, Budehaven students from Year 10 spend two weeks learning more about the real world of work, and this summer 236 students found placements working either locally, or further afield. For most, this was a great experience, whilst for a few it was a wake-up call, to show them that perhaps the kind of job they thought they wanted was not really for them after all. Caroline Scott who is the teacher currently responsible for  Year 10 Budehaven Work Experience declared: "This was a fantastic opportunity for students to go out into the work place and try out future careers, whether it be as a car mechanic, a chef, or a teacher." She has the highest praise for employers who participate in the programme: "we simply could not do it without them" she says " and we value enormously all the feedback which we have and the effort put in by employers to help our students."


Over seventy local businesses kindly agreed to participate, with a further 26 businesses 'out of county' offering placements as far afield as Port Talbot in Wales, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey and Hertfordshire. The range of opportunities available was immense, and whilst some students experienced training as plumbers, car mechanics, construction workers, thatchers, bakers,  hairdressers or grooms, others spent their time learning more about the skills required to be a nursery nurse, a classroom assistant, a fitness technician, sports coach or beautician. Many want to follow careers in the hospitality industry and there were placements available with local hotels, surf schools, restaurants and bistros. "We had a great time, really", said one young man who spent his two weeks learning the ropes at a popular hotel with a reputation for great customer service; "you quickly realise that the customer always has to come first, and you will always go the extra mile to make sure they have enjoyed their meal or their stay."


There were plenty of opportunities also working within retail and office based environments, whether with big local stores, like Boots or Wroes, or smaller emerging successful businesses like Sargies Cornish Kitchen, where customer service is a vital part of success. Some also spent their two weeks with opticians, architects, solicitors, estate agents or vets – though the latter involved plenty of practical work as well! Caroline Scott says that  for many students,  these placements  cement their future aspirations and provide the motivation they need to achieve the exam results they will need. "But some realise that this is not the career they want to pursue so we can help them to focus on other plans" she explains.


Placing of each student requires a considerable amount of staff time, both in checking out the workplace and in explaining to the prospective employer exactly what is involved, and in matching students to appropriate placements. "We encourage students to find their own opportunities," says Caroline "and employers appreciate the initiative of a direct approach from a student; but others need a bit more encouragement, and then we also try to visit them in the workplace to see how it is working out." Feedback from employers is very important, and is highly valued both by the school and the students. Caroline Scott says that the feedback has been quite unusually positive, with typical comments including 'we were really pleased to see her using her initiative' and 'absolutely outstanding, with an amazing talent'. Others noted 'everything he has been asked to do has been done with a smile' and 'one of the best students we have ever had – very practical.' One hotelier noted that his student 'was incredibly enthusiastic and able to fulfil a number of duties and showed an adaptable approach to a variety of tasks' which was typical of comments received about so many.

The students themselves are equally enthusiastic. Some saw the importance of exams to achieve aims. "It's really made me sure about what A Levels I need to do" said one young lady, whilst another student said  that it had far exceeded his expectations. "I have felt a real sense of achievement learning new skills" he added. Many noted that the days were long and that, particularly in retail or the service industries "you are on your feet all day, and you're always expected to be smiling and polite even when you long to get home and sit down!".

Some schools are looking carefully at the value of work experience for students when there are ever increasing pressures on the basic curriculum but Budehaven is firmly committed to continuing with the process which is a vital preparation for the world of work, and a learning experience which is a real eye-opener to many students.



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