Parents undecided on work experience

22nd April 2005 at 01:00
There is some dissatisfaction with the present system of work experience for pupils - but little notion of how it should be improved.

These are the main findings of a survey by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, which drew responses from 428 individuals in 45 schools across 21 authorities.

Work experience has taken a back seat of late with the Scottish Executive giving priority to enterprise education and work-related courses for the 14-plus age group. It is not yet clear how work experience, which is intended as a week's "entitlement" (it is meant to be voluntary) for pupils in S4, fits in with the new policy.

While the SPTC survey found that there was 43 per cent support for the status quo, 47 per cent backed an alternative in which pupils could go on a "taster week" anytime from S4 onwards.

The survey, however, was conducted among primary as well as secondary schools, which would be expected to be more aware of the issues. Support for the status quo emerged more strongly in secondary schools - 63 per cent; and support for the alternative plan was markedly less popular, at just 26 per cent.

The council commented: "A number of secondary schools said that it would be difficult to plan if youngsters went out of school throughout the year in ones and twos, rather than as at present on two or three clearly defined weeks. This practical consideration was the main reason why primary and secondary schools had such different views on the options."

Its report concluded: "The survey showed that there is a level of dissatisfaction with the present system of work experience; that the quality of the experience varies not only across the country but from school to school; and that people have different views about what it is meant to deliver.

"However, there is also an understanding that any scheme has to result in minimal disruption and the present system scores well on this point."

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