Work experience is an important part of preparing students for employment. It enables students to learn about the world of work in a real life working environment.
For information on the work experience offer within your own school, please contact your school work experience co-ordinator.
Work experience gives students an understanding of working life and the skills needed in the workplace. A company will generally not be used if a student has a part time job there or if their parents work there. Before starting, students look at equal opportunities and stereotyping. All students need and benefit from real knowledge in the world of work.
Students eligible to take part in work experience
Students in the last two years of compulsory schooling can take part in work experience (from the start of year 10).
What students should do while on work experience
As far as possible students should undertake real tasks to give them an idea of the work carried out by the employer. They should learn how the company is organised. Some students may see the more complicated parts of running a company. This will give them an understanding of how enterprise, creativity and innovation help business growth.
A programme should be organised for the student, and employers should monitor what the student has achieved. Every student should have a work experience log book where they can record their progress. The employer can help by making sure the student completes this and by completing the employer assessment section for the student.
Role of the parents / guardians
Parents or guardians can offer valuable support when finding placements for students. Written consent is needed from the parents / guardians before a placement can begin. They will be given information about the placement. They will also know how to contact the school if their child has any problems with their placement. Before their child starts, parents / guardians are asked to provide any medical information that could affect the health, safety or welfare of their child while on work placement.
Limits on the jobs students can do
There are limitations on the type of work that students can experience. The school work experience co-ordinator can give advice on this.
How the school makes arrangements
The work experience co-ordinator will plan a scheme of work for the student. The scheme will cover health and safety preparation and the briefing of students before going on work experience. When a company is interested in providing work experience for a student, it will be sent contact details and the work experience programme. Parents, employers and students then complete an approval and consent form. The form shows that all parties agree with the arrangements.
Placement suitability visit
The school will assess the placement provider. The organisers ensure the company will meet the student's health, safety and welfare needs while on work experience.
Specific risk assessment for young workers
Employers need to inform students of their main duties and tasks. They need to make clear the type of work they want the student to carry out. They also need to explain any risks and remind the students of their responsibilities while on placement. Parents or guardians will be told of these risks. There is a piece in the employer section of the approval and consent form for this. If parents / guardians or employers have any queries they can contact the work experience co-ordinator.
Health and safety at work
The importance of health and safety at work will be taught before the work experience starts. Students will be shown their own responsibility for health and safety at work. The employer, at the start of the placement, will reinforce the health and safety responsibilities.
Employment regulations give all school students receiving training the same protection and duties as employees. This is under the health and safety at work act and other relevant statutory provisions.
The need for employers to inform parents / guardians of the outcome of their risk assessment is under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The approval and consent form will enable employers to do this if they wish.
The general duty of care that teachers owe to students extends to the arranging of placements.
The employer is the person most responsible for the health and safety of the student while on work experience.
The employer must explain fire, first aid and accident reporting procedures to the student.
The employer must explain to the student any hazards associated with the work area and the work to be done. The importance of following safe working practices must also be emphasised.
Where needed, safety equipment and protective clothing must be available to the student.
It is in everyone's interest that the employer ensures adequate supervision throughout the placement. Supervisors should be aware of the purpose of the work experience. They must have a good knowledge of health and safety and know a bit about the student working with them.
Medical information on students
The schools will consider the health of every student before any placement is chosen. For example, a student would be advised to avoid dusty places if he or she suffers from asthma. The employer must be informed if a student is on medication. Parents / guardians are asked to provide any medical information that may affect the safety and welfare of their child while they are on placement.
Reporting of accidents, incidents and dangerous occurrences
The employer has a duty to report any accidents, incidents or dangerous occurrences involving the student that happen on site. These should be reported to the head teacher or work experience co-ordinator. The employer should also try and contact the parents or guardians at home if a telephone number has been provided.
Child protection issues
Schools prepare students to dealing with and reporting incidents that they feel uncomfortable with during their work placement. Employers also need to take account of child protection issues under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.
The employers insurance company must be informed of an employers’ intention to take on a work experience student. If a student will be travelling in a vehicle for the purposes of work, the vehicle insurance must cover them.
There are six principal areas of risk that may arise in the course of work experience:
- Injury to students
- Injury to others on the premises
- Injury to others not on the premises
- Damage to or loss of employers' property
- Damage to or loss of other property
- Damage to or loss of employee's property
Where a liability can be demonstrated then:
Injuries caused to others on the premises, others not on the premises, damage to others property and damage to employee's property should normally be covered by the employer's Public Liability Insurance policy.
Damage to the employer's own property should normally be covered by the employer's Material Damage policy.
Injuries to the student while on work experience will be covered by the employer's Employers Liability Insurance policy.
Students will be made aware that if they cause injury or damage through a deliberate act, they will not be covered by insurance. They may also be required to meet the cost of any compensation the courts may award.
Teacher visits to placement providers
The work experience scheme requires a member of staff to visit the employer during the placement. This enables the teacher to monitor and review the progress of the student. Where a visit is deemed not to be reasonably practicable e.g. out of the area, the school will contact the employer.
Hours of work
The employer, school and student agree the number and pattern of hours worked. Where possible, standard working hours are encouraged. There is legislation in place that specifies hours that students cannot work outside of.
Pay, tax and national insurance
Students taking part in work experience do so voluntary and do not get paid. They will therefore not have to pay tax or national insurance. Employers can assist with travelling or lunch costs if they wish.
Length of work experience
There are no fixed requirements for how long a student works on placement for. A block of five to ten days is the average length of stay. This allows the placement to be of enough depth to be of use. Students on an extended work experience need to work at least one day per week if the experience is to be of real value.
Lunch and break periods
Parents / guardians should discuss the arrangements for lunch and break periods with their child. They should then make sure these arrangements are suitable. If a student leaves the premises during lunch or break periods, liability cannot be accepted if any incident occurs.
Out of the area work placements
Some students wish to do work experience outside of the area. Travel or accommodation must be organised by the parents / guardians in such cases. There may be problems with getting a placement suitability visit in these cases. The work experience co-ordinator should be the first point of contact if information on this is required.
Who to contact at the school if there is a problem
People can contact the work experience co-ordinator at all times throughout the placement. The name and contact details of the co-ordinator will be given out before the work placement starts.