Work experience before sixth form is dubbed waste of time

4th March 2011 at 00:00

Schools should stop organising pupils' work experience before they reach sixth form because "almost no young people" go into full-time jobs aged 16, the Wolf report recommends.

The review of vocational educational says the current legal requirement to offer 14-16 year-olds "work-related learning" should be dropped.

Instead it calls on the Department for Education to look at how employers can be "reimbursed" to offer 16-18 year-olds in full-time education "genuine work experience".

"Schools and colleges should be encouraged to prioritise longer internships for older students, reflecting the fact that almost no young people move into full-time employment at 16," the report says.

"The Government should correspondingly remove their statutory duty to provide every young person at key stage 4 with a standard amount of work related learning."

But Sarah Gibb, director of schools and work-based learning for Business in the Community, said it was better for pupils to get work experience pre-16.

"It is more inspiring," she said. "A particular example is girls - the earlier we can get to them the easier it will be to inspire them and prevent them from rejecting particular careers.

"Quality work experience increases your employability at any age but I would say the earlier the better if it is properly planned and structured.

"We still hear of pupils being put into shops to fold jeans for a week."

Last year a survey of employers by the CBI found that only 37 per cent of companies were satisfied with the work experience they offered.

Another of the report's recommendations could increase the wage bills of schools that want to use college lecturers as teachers.

It says qualified lecturers should be given exactly the same status of qualified teacher in schools.

Author Professor Alison Wolf, said: "This will allow schools to recruit qualified professionals to teach courses to school level (rather than bussing pupils to colleges) with clear efficiency gains."

The academic told The TES the discrepancy was "crazy", adding: "I can't see any justification for it. These are two nationally recognised teaching qualifications, they should be viewed as equivalent and they should be treated the same way."

She said: "It is not that you are (currently) forbidden to teach but you get offered some derisory amount; you are not treated as a qualified teacher."

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