WorkXperience - Before, During and After
Before the Placement
Organising a work experience programme takes considerable organisation on behalf of the school and the teachers involved. Well in advance, teachers have to agree timetables with other programmes, and may have to stagger classes so that all students get an opportunity.
Once timetables have been established, the appropriate paperwork (insurance forms, consent forms, letters of request etc.) must be updated and prepared.
Teachers also must decide on the level of preparation in advance of any placements - which may be difficult if placement dates are set early in the school year, or if there are limited classroom times available.
Teachers also have to log details of each student's placement, and may decide to communicate with all employers. It is the responsibility of the teacher to know the whereabouts of all students, and to be able to contact students or parents whenever necessary.
During the Placement
The extent to which schools can monitor students while on work experience will vary depending on school resources and the number of students on work experience. A short visit by a member of staff to a student on work experience can be important in reassuring students, employers and parents of the value the school places on the work experience programme.
It provides an opportunity for the teacher/coordinator to observe the workplaces at first hand which can help when reviewing any subsequent employer feedback reports. It also helps to strengthen the links between the school and local employers.
When making initial contact with employers, whether it is through direct phone contact or an information sheet that the student makes available to the employer, make sure to advise that you may wish to visit the premises while the student is on placement. Where it is not feasible to visit every student while on work placement, it is advisable to make phone contact with the employer and separately with the student to ensure that the placement is going smoothly.
Students and employers should also be clearly advised as to what process should be followed if a student is absent from the placement for any reason or if an incident or accident occurs. Teachers may opt to contact some employers and students during the active work experience period. Some students may report difficulties, and some employers may also run into difficulty maintaining the placement.
It is especially a good idea to make contact with those employers new to offering a work experience, to ensure that all is going well. Such calls communicate the concern and commitment of a school to a successful programmme, and increase the likelihood of a satisfying experience for both the employer and student. It may also open the possibility of the employer offering a subsequent placement at a later date.
After the Placement
One of the principal tasks after the placement is to retrieve feedback/evaluation forms from employers. These may have been issued to the employer in advance of the placement or during it, and can alternatively be photocopied from the WorkXperience Diary and Workbook (if used by the student) and given to the employer by the student. These are typically posted to the school directly, and form an essential part of the evaluation of the overall programme.
After the completing any evaluations with the students (see Debriefing and Evaluation) teachers should update their employer and student records. If appropriate, students should be issued with their evaluation forms and a certificate of participation from the school.