Pupils at a Tamworth school are getting hands-on experience of practical skills to equip them for the world of work in a project organised by the Careers and Enterprise Company in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
The Rawlett School teamed up with Volunteer It Yourself VIY) and the charity’s commercial partner Wickes to show Year 8 and 10 pupils how the subjects such as maths that they learn in the classroom can be applied in real-world jobs, as well as developing their organisational and team-building skills.
The result is a handsome set of benches and planters for the school grounds which the pupils have built and painted themselves, developing skills in measuring and calculation, reading blueprints and using carpentry tools in the process.
The first set was built by Year 10 pupils, who then also developed their mentoring and team-leading skills by teaching Year 8 youngsters what they had learned and working with them to build more garden furniture.
Rawlett School careers lead and director of learning Judith Scott said: “It makes all the difference for pupils to explore the practical applications of classroom subjects and the kinds of careers they could lead to.
“This kind of experience is particularly important for young people who may struggle in a classroom setting but who come to life when they are involved in practical tasks. The older pupils also really enjoyed working with the younger ones – it was a great confidence boost for them to realise they had developed new skills that they could teach to others.”
All the pupils who completed the project received City & Guilds entry level certificates in employability skills.
Year 10 pupil Tarkin Morris, aged 15, who is aiming carpentry career, said he had enjoyed the work experience. “When it comes to pen and paper I’m not the best, but I really like building stuff with my hands,” he said. “It was good experience and we all learned a lot.”
Fellow pupil Owen Crowter, aged 15, who plans to train as an electrician or a mechanic, said: “It was really helpful. We learned how to use all sorts of tools properly and safely and to work together as a team to get things done.”
Year 8 pupils also enjoyed their furniture-building experience. Ann-Marie Deda, 13, said: “It was very interesting. I had never done anything like that before – and I got a qualification from it.”
VIY project manager Dee Dee Whelan added: “It was great to see the pupils so enthusiastic about their work, helping and learning from each other and taking real pride in their achievements.”
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “The LEP’s key aims include raising skills levels and creating more and better paid jobs in priority sectors of our local economy such as advanced manufacturing and technology. Equipping young people to take full advantage of the fulfilling and rewarding careers of the future by developing their skills and giving them hands-on experience will help our area prosper in the long term.
“I am delighted that pupils at the Rawlett School and other schools across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are connecting so successfully with the world of work.”
The Rawlett School was one of the first schools to work with the LEP, and a number of other schools are now working across the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area with the Careers and Enterprise Company. Each of the schools is matched to an Enterprise Adviser, a volunteer from business who works with the school, along with the Enterprise Coordinator to support the implementation of an all-school careers programme. The programme meets career guidance benchmarks and Department for Education guidance and is aligned to the LEP’s aims of creating skilled employment opportunities in key sectors of the local economy such as manufacturing and engineering. The aim is to raise students’ aspirations, prepare them for the world of work and reduce the skills gap.
There are currently 37 Enterprise Advisers for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent from a variety of sectors. They have supported the schools in the planning of their careers programme and delivery of activities for students. They have also supported with mentoring, mock interview days, workshops to support students in decision-making for GSCE options, enterprise competitions, planning their career pathways, self-awareness and employability sessions, and lots more.
Research shows that young people who have four or more encounters with the world of work while in education are 86% less likely to be NEET – not in education, employment or training – and on average will go on to earn 18% more than their peers who did not have such opportunities.
We are looking for more businesses to get involved in the Enterprise Adviser Network either as an Enterprise Adviser or by supporting the scheme in other ways.
Any schools and employers interested in getting involved in the scheme in Stoke-on-Trent can contact Ian Picken Ian.Picken@stoke.gov.uk and in Staffordshire they can contact Carrie Abbott Carrie.Abbott2@stoke.gov.uk