Work Exerience

Why should you undertake a work experience?

Following a recent government review of post 16 study programmes, all 6th form students are now required to complete at least 1 week of work experience/equivalent while they are in Year 12.  The Department for Education states that the placements should be “Purposeful, substantial, offer challenge and be relevant to the young person’s study programme and career aspirations.”

On this basis, we will consider programmes in NCS, DofE, the Outlook Expedition and the CSLA Award (Community Sports Leadership) as potential alternatives to work experience if we believe the skills acquired through these activities are directly relevant to their preferred post 18 option.  However, students who do complete one of these 'alternative' activities will still be encouraged to complete work experience too.

In order to complete the work experience placement students must follow the following procedure:

1.   Approach employers who may be able to offer relevant work experience to you.  From previous experience, we have found that students have most success in securing a placement when they approach family or friends who can offer relevant work experience so we suggest that students take this approach first.  If there are no family or friends options then students should refer to the list of employers that can be accessed via the links below.  These lists show employers that have either taken students from the school before or who have agreed in principle to offering work experience placements with Derbyshire County Council.

2. Collect a work experience pack from The Sixth Form and discuss the main purpose of the placement as additional checks may be required.  Complete the ‘Work Experience Partnership Agreement Form’ in conjunction with the employer and parents, this must then be returned to the Sixth Form.  As part of this process the student must complete the ‘Medical Health Check’ form and give it to the employer with the letter of understanding between the school and the employer.

4. It may be necessary to refer the placement through the Derbyshire County Council Work experience Team for acceptance - this is based on the level of risk of the placement e.g. a chemical factory or mining. Opposite is a flow diagram to outline the procedures and timings - note: at least 8 weeks is required to authorise such placements.

5.   If the placement is during term time, students must complete a Notification of Absence Form at least 5 school days before their placement starts to ensure that teaching staff are aware of the time they will be missing from lessons – this should be returned to Fran Lloyd in the Sixth Form Office.

5.   While on placement, students must complete the ‘Work Experience Booklet’ as evidence of their placement.  This must include a brief reference from the employer commenting on the students’ performance.  This booklet must be handed in to the Sixth Form office so that we can keep an accurate record of your placement before returning it to the student for future reference.

Although we appreciate that arranging this work experience placement is an additional burden in what is already a very busy year for students, we do believe that it will be of significant benefit to students as they prepare for their potential careers and plan their next steps.

Link to the Work Experience Database

Work Experience Flow Chart v2

Work Experience Letter Template

Sometimes it’s all about what you know and who you know…

No matter where you’re at with your career, gaining some hands-on experience in the right industry is absolutely essential to help you stand out from the crowd. Especially if you’re up against stiff competition. To make sure you’re not missing out, here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know about work experience placements:

What is a work experience placement?

A work experience placement is a temporary role, which allows people who are looking for employment in a specific field to gain practical experience – and find out what it’s really like.

The type of work you’ll be expected to do will vary, depending on the individual workplace and type of placement you choose, although it will normally involve a large amount of observation or work ‘shadowing’, alongside assisting with day-to-day tasks and duties.

When can I do one?

Although work experience placements are most common during summer holidays, it’s possible to find a work placement at any time of the year.

Not all companies are in a position to offer you a role, but most local businesses are accommodating when it comes to providing opportunities.

Just make sure you get in touch with an employer or apply for a vacancy in advance of when you’re looking to start, so the employer has time to organise dates and work out the formalities. If you give little notice, you’re unlikely to be considered.

What are the benefits?

Aside from gaining new skills and experience, a work placement provides you with a valuable insight into how a particular industry works, and helps decide if the role is right for you.

Work placements could also give you the ability to expand your network of contacts within an industry, meaning you could gain positive references to use for future jobs, and other roles might become more obtainable.

All in all, work experience is a great way to quantify your skills and prove your enthusiasm and dedication to a particular field of work. Your CV will look more impressive, and you’ll become more employable as a result.

The possibility that a successful placement could eventually result in a full-time job is also a plus.

Will I get paid?

Generally speaking, work experience placements are unpaid roles, as they span over a short period of time and are classed as volunteer work – although you may be given subsidised for travel and/or lunch costs.

What kind of work can I do?

Work experience is available within most sectors and industries, although the most popular placements are based in media and digital, fashion, finance, art and design, and teaching.

How long will the placement last?

The exact length of a placement will vary from place to place, and will depend on the type of work, the industry, and the individual employer. We would hope that you can secure a minimum of 2 days and look towards a week long experience. 

How do I get one?

Securing a work experience placement is similar to finding a job – although the roles might not be advertised as widely, and you may need to ask around or get in touch with a company directly.

Once you’ve found an available opportunity, or a company you’d like to work for, the next step is to make contact with them; in the first instance a call may suffice and if necessary you may need to write to them requesting a work experience.  A draft work experience letter can be found below as a starting point.