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Work experience for school children - advice needed

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  • missbiggles1
    missbiggles1 Posts: 17,481 Forumite
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    I'm 47 and the school mandated work experience was after O levels, before the summer holiday. Nominally term time, but when there was no teaching going on for students of in that year - the exams were done, A level teaching started in Spetember, for those that were staying on.

    No way the school would take a fortnight of actual teaching time out for kids to do filing / tea making etc! (after all, it is the END OF THE WORLD if a child has but a day off for a holiday in term time and it will blight there entire education and ruin their lives, the teaching unions and politicians tell us)

    For those talking about insurance and local authority visits, times must have changed. I turned 16 while on the two weeks placement and that was working at an aerospace and defence contractor (not BAe) with a large factory floor with the usual lathes / mills / drills etc. So whatever insurance they had in place must have covered 15 year olds wandering around the factory floor, and the council weren't mentioned once by anyone ...

    I'm 65 and we started A level work after O levels finished as well as broader general studies. Most of us had already been working Saturdays and during the holidays for over a year.

    When I worked as Careers Officer in the 80s, school work experience was usually in year 10 after the exams so little real teaching time lost.
  • PasturesNew
    PasturesNew Posts: 70,698 Forumite
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    I used to work full-time, for pay, in the summer holidays from when I was about 15, usually through temp agencies as a filing clerk, receptionist or copy typist. I'd worked that one out for myself and signed on with the agencies in the nearby town.

    I'd have had no spare time for "work experience", I was already in full-time, paid work!

    We didn't have work experience in my day... but if we had my mum'd have asked her boss if I could work at her place. Actually, I'd already worked one holiday break there, "picking" in a seeds 'factory' (factory = it was a warehouse about 20'x40' with boxes of packeted seeds and I went round with a trolley and orders picking them out). No moving equipment or lorries. 30p/hour I got I think :) Felt loaded.
  • newgirly
    newgirly Posts: 8,993 Forumite
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    Our work experience placements are always during term time, mostly school aged with the odd college student. So far I have met one who has previously worked (and that was for family), it really is much harder than it was for kids to get jobs, I worked every weekend and holiday from 13. My daughter however couldn't even get a job volunteering in a charity shop locally as they had a waiting list of volunteers! . She has spent the last few years working for free at various different places to enhance he cv in the the industry she wants to work in (whilst studying).

    So although some may have jobs, many don't and they need the help. I have to say though, I don't know how some will keep jobs after seeing them really not making any effort to work, one we had even fell asleep at his desk :eek: we have had some great ones too though thank goodness.
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  • YORKSHIRELASS
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    Work experience is compulsory in our school in Year 10 but they have scrapped it for Year 11s. I personally think its an old fashioned idea and really a waste of time. At 16 I was starting to think about leaving school and going into the world of work so work experience was more relevant and employers were more willing to allow you to do some "proper" work.

    My son will likely stay in education for much longer and have several part time jobs along the way so I think it would be better for him to be in school for that week actually studying.
  • missbiggles1
    missbiggles1 Posts: 17,481 Forumite
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    newgirly wrote: »
    Our work experience placements are always during term time, mostly school aged with the odd college student. So far I have met one who has previously worked (and that was for family), it really is much harder than it was for kids to get jobs, I worked every weekend and holiday from 13. My daughter however couldn't even get a job volunteering in a charity shop locally as they had a waiting list of volunteers! . She has spent the last few years working for free at various different places to enhance he cv in the the industry she wants to work in (whilst studying).

    So although some may have jobs, many don't and they need the help. I have to say though, I don't know how some will keep jobs after seeing them really not making any effort to work, one we had even fell asleep at his desk :eek: we have had some great ones too though thank goodness.

    Which may well explain why companies are less likely to take on youngsters for part time work.

    When I started part time work they expected to show you what do once (twice at most) and then you were generally expected to get on with it like everybody else.

    My first Saturday job was in the office at Woolworths and one of my tasks was to go round, alone, with a leather satchel, collecting the money from the tills. I did this 4 times a day and then had to go back uostairs and count it all. I can't imagine any employer giving a 15 year old that responsibility these days but friends were often given similar tasks so it wasn't unusual then.
  • just_trying
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    Okay here goes but I'm in Scotland. My oldest tried to get work experience but due to what she wanted to do it was hard.

    My middle went and asked a company on his own, they had h&s etc, they said they would have him only and didn't want any others.

    He left school at 16 and now is doing the same job for someone else, asking before he left school for full time employment it's not easy for employers to take on young ones willy nilly anymore for work experience due to insurance etc,
  • Madmel
    Madmel Posts: 798 Forumite
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    In my school, they do a week of Work Experience in year 11, the week before October half term. However, the kids sit their GCSEs in year 10, so they are not missing a week of school at a critical time. Both my DDs have used contacts to get their placements. We live in a rural area and the few large organisations that there are get snapped up quickly. DD1's placement was sorted by her best friend's mum and step-dad at the Met Office. DD2 is going to spend a week with our dentist.

    The work they do tends to be quite menial, but depends completely on the workplace. I often go out to visit my students and they report a mix of experiences. As a parent, the best things you can do are to support them in getting the placement, perhaps by asking friends, neighbours or local companies you use, and to teach them to make a decent cup of tea or coffee.

    In our school we have a 2nd week of Work Experiemce in year 12. Linguists get to spend the week in France or Germany, and because they are all over 16, the students are not tied just to the local area. In February DD1 stayed in the NW of England with my dad. He has a number of business contacts and used them to get some names that DD could write to. She spent a fantastic week working in the labs of a pharmaceutical business, learning lots and putting her knowledge of Chemistry to the test. She was the first WE student the business (a large multinational) had ever taken on and judging by the amount of freebies she brought home, it was beneficial to both. I saw the report on her that was sent in to school - very proud mum moment!
  • Lunar_Eclipse
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    My daughter has recently done this, in the week following GCSEs before schools broke up.

    She wants to study Medicine, so spent a week in a London hospital and another week in a local hospice. I initially organised the former through a friend of a friend (then she made contact); she organised the latter in its entirety, which included an interview.

    Start with your children's interests and also likely A level subjects/whatever they're planning on doing next year. Ideally try to find something vaguely related (that they might even talk about at uni interviews) and/or something on the doorstep. My 16 year old was on the 6.28am train for a week which was tiring and really expensive!
  • MallyGirl
    MallyGirl Posts: 6,698 Senior Ambassador
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    For those talking about insurance and local authority visits, times must have changed. I turned 16 while on the two weeks placement and that was working at an aerospace and defence contractor (not BAe) with a large factory floor with the usual lathes / mills / drills etc. So whatever insurance they had in place must have covered 15 year olds wandering around the factory floor, and the council weren't mentioned once by anyone ...

    I'm 49. My work experience was 2 weeks - I worked in the pharmacy of Whipps Cross hospital. I dispensed pills and worked with some really nasty solvent (xylene) cleaning out jars full of some sort of goop used for physio (full body suit and a mask for this job). I don't think they had invented Health and Safety back then!!!
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  • tyllwyd
    tyllwyd Posts: 5,496 Forumite
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    My daughter has had two work experience weeks - one in year 10 and one in year 12. It was a nightmare to arrange both times! In year 10, when they are below 16, some employers won't/can't have children that age. In that year, most of them ended up in charity shops or local businesses like hairdressers or shops, mostly arranged through friends of their parents. Somewhere like a local theatre might have a few places, if you get in early. But get onto it asap because everywhere suitable tends to get loads of enquiries.


    In year 12, she thought she'd organised a week with a local children's drama school, then found they weren't open that week and the school wouldn't let her do work experience on a different week. In the end I found that Bristol Old Vic Theatre School ran a short course that week, and her sixth form tutor had pretty much given up on her by then, so she spent the week at drama school - not cheap (!) but she was happy (and she did get good experience and something to put on her cv so it wasn't wasted time).
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