Making Things Happen

Work X – Outstanding Employment Skills

“I would recommend this model to any school that is considering what to do instead of block work experience.”

Following the Wolf report, schools up and down the country are coming to terms with the cuts in government funding for block work experience opportunities for Key Stage 4 students. Some of them are grasping this nettle with eagerness and one such is Standish Community High School. Standish is a 10-form entry, international Language College graded by Ofsted as good with many outstanding features. It is situated on the outskirts of Wigan in Lancashire.

Anne Melling, the WRL Co-ordinator, had previously invited Bright Futures in to her school to work with Year 7 students as part of their induction programme. Anne had been impressed and so asked Bright Futures to prepare a full day for the Year 11 students – a day looking at employability skills. This was part of the students’ work-related learning programme and was instead of the week-long work experience placement.

Standish Community High School

In addition, Anne wanted to make it a special and memorable occasion for the students. She booked an off-site venue – the DW Stadium, home of Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic. The students were asked to dress in smart attire for the day as if they were attending a business conference. The result was a high quality event that anyone from the business community would have instantly recognized.

Students worked in small teams to imitate the arrangements in the workplace. Early in the day, the individual and team challenges were aimed at testing the students’ skills of observation and getting the teams to work together and ‘gel’. The “Top Secret” exercise tested their powers of logic and deduction.

The next activity covered all the stages of the recruitment process and the students considered how best to “sell” themselves.  One of them commented, “It was really good to experience the selection process from the other end”. Picking up on a recent QCA finding that one of the main requests students are making is for help with CV writing, the School asked for this also to be included in the day.

Several other activities were designed to build students’ confidence, improve their negotiating skills and ultimately enhance their employability. In their final written evaluation, 93% of the students said this had been a really good day!

Students were enthusiastic about the day as can be gathered from the following comments they wrote in answer to the question ‘What did you find most helpful about the programme?’:

  • it helped my confidence and communication skills;
  • getting good information about job interviews and writing CVs;
  • finding out what to focus on in an application form;
  • doing the presentation helped me gain confidence;
  • learning to set time limits;
  • that it’s important to communicate as a team and to be confident.

Anne Melling commented: “This was a superb experience for our students. The wide range of tasks and challenges set by Bright Futures taught them many relevant skills that they might otherwise have gained through a work placement. The feedback from the students so far is very positive and we are certainly going to use this model again. We were very impressed by Bright Futures.”

Lynne Fox

Lynne Fox, Headteacher, visited the event during the day. She was very pleased with what she saw and said: “This was exactly what we had hoped for. Our students rose to the occasion and excelled themselves. I would recommend this model to any school that is considering what to do instead of block work experience.

Matt Watson, Director of Bright Futures, commented: “Some of our best programmes happen when we work in partnership with a school to discuss and agree exactly what they need. This was the case with Standish. We are delighted with the excellent feedback we received from the students. It is clear that this conference ‘hit the spot’ for them.”

Lynne Fox
Standish Community High School
Kenyon Road, Standish
Wigan, Lancashire, WN6 0NX
T: 01257 422265

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