29th October 2004 at 01:00
One of the aims of our school development plan is to encourage responsibility in Year 4 - the top year of our school. I decided to initiate a "work experience" scheme.

All the Year 4 children were told that they could volunteer to be a classroom assistant for a day. The take-up has been more than 90 per cent.

There is an application form which children can ask for and they fill in details about themselves and explain why they want the job and what qualities they think they can bring to it. We also ask children to attach a reference letter from an adult who knows them well, such as a family member or teacher.

The form is given to the teacher the child wants to work with. The teacher writes back asking the applicant to an interview. That usually takes about five or 10 minutes at lunchtime and includes planning what the pupil will do in the classroom when they get the job. A date is set in advance and on the day the pupil comes to the adult entrance 10 minutes early and signs in wearing a "work experience student" badge and their normal clothes, rather than school uniform.

The "job" involves a wide range of duties: reading to the children, filing, photocopying and wall-display work. At playtime, children can join their friends and at the end of the day they leave at the usual time. Soon after, they receive a certificate in assembly to acknowledge their work experience day. Children love it, and teachers are supportive of the project and happy to give up time.

Clare Moore

Headteacher, Ixworth Primary School, Suffolk

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