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Tricia Le Gallais, Birmingham City University E&E Conference on 12th October Warwick University 1T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference.

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Presentation on theme: "Tricia Le Gallais, Birmingham City University E&E Conference on 12th October Warwick University 1T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tricia Le Gallais, Birmingham City University E&E Conference on 12th October 2011 @ Warwick University 1T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

2  Original research: The work experience placements of secondary school students: widening horizons or reproducing social inequality?’ ( Hatcher & Le Gallais 2008).  The researchers investigated the distribution of students to placements with particular emphasis on differentiation by social class  The processes utilised by the various schools in the allocation of placements formed an important part of the research. 2T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

3  Five schools participated in the original research.  1,000 questionnaires &100 interviews + pupils; interviews with staff at the five schools involved  One of these schools, anonymised as Avon School, has an intake selected by ability; the other four schools, namely Bedford, Cumbria, Devon and Essex School, are comprehensive schools.  Eligibility for free school meals (FSM) was used as a proxy indicator of the socio-economic status (SES) of the school populations, which, whilst limited as an indicator, allowed the researchers to categorise the schools as high SES (Avon), middle SES (Bedford and Cumbria) and low SES (Devon and Essex). 3T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

4  Work placements tend powerfully to reflect and reproduce patterns of social class inequality, rather than to widen students’ vocational horizons.  Four of the five schools adopted a ‘hands-off’ approach to their pupils’ choice of WEPs, encouraging pupils to find their own placement, in some cases regardless of quality  Let’s be honest, my concern is to get 156 people 156 places. And relax, you know. The more worthwhile they are, great, whoopee. I’m even happier, sort of thing. But there is not enough time provided to go around and check that everybody has got a super placement… They might be bored witless after three days…(Teacher, Avon, 2008)  Essex was found to have a distinctive approach; its pupils had far more school support and direction and far less independent choice than the other schools. T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference4

5  Taking the data for all five schools into account the number of professional placements accessed by one of the schools, namely Essex School, was higher than one might reasonably have anticipated from its low socioeconomic status.  It was also the most directive regarding pupil choice of placements  These intriguing anomalies provided the stimulus for undertaking this piece of small scale research in 2010-2011. 5T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

6  It may just a week or two in duration but a pupil’s work experience placement can be pivotal in terms of its influence on decision making: Work experience was often reported to be an axial point in decision making about individual careers, helping students determine what they want or do not want from future careers. (Foskett et al. 2003)  At the time of this research schools have a statutory requirement to provide work-based learning. This usually takes place in Key Stage 4.  DfE advise that Whilst schools will clearly need to be sensitive to the risk that placing students into areas of work in which they feel uncomfortable may be counterproductive, they should, nevertheless, consider how far they should allow their students free choice of placements. ( DfES 2002a, p12) 6T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

7  The Headteacher’s response to the DfE’s advice: Comfortable? I don’t want them to be comfortable. I want them out of their comfort zone. Otherwise (this area) is it for them! Broadening their horizons is so important.  In discussion about the school’s interventionist stance regarding their pupils’ WEPs, she acknowledged it to be a necessary approach in order to fully support her students We have to be the parent for our pupils. Our (pupils’) parents are not able or cognisant enough to play the game and the children here make choices according to bus routes. Our directing them means showing them a different side of life. 7T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

8  Inner city suburb, West Midlands  Its catchment area is one of the most socially and economically disadvantaged areas in the country  City unemployment rate= 12.5%; school’s suburb=27.8%  In 2010: 66% Free School Meals (2011 72%?)  According to figures for January 2011 provided by Essex School the percentage of pupils with English as a second language is 86%.  The predominant ethnic make up of the school is Bangladeshi (43%), Pakistani (29%) and Black Somali (11%). 8T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

9  The percentage of pupils gaining five or more A*-C grades at GCSE in 2000 was just 15%  By 2011 this had risen to 82% (5 or more A*-C grades)  The Wolf Report (2011: 8) into Vocational Education states that English and Maths GCSE (at grades A*-C) are fundamental to young people’s employment and education prospects. Yet less than 50% of students have both at the end of Key Stage 4 (age 15/16)  And Essex, a low SES school, has 53% of its students achieving five or more A*-C grades including English and Mathematics. 9T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

10  Small scale qualitative research + limitations  Lone researcher  Two members of staff at Essex School with specific responsibilities for the school’s work experience programme took part in interviews  36 Year Twelve students took part in interviews and/or questionnaires.  Additional documentary data from the school and other relevant staff  Interview with the Headteacher 10T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

11  Each pupil profiled (academic, interests, etc.)  Pupils write application forms and attend interviews  Military mission to search out and obtain quality WEPs for her pupils. Her colleague comments: ‘They (the employers) don’t stand a chance! If they say yes to one, she’ll ask for two. She’ll say they are lovely girls. If they say they can only take one she’ll remind them they took two last year…She’ll cold call them, she’ll get in the car and visit them, she’ll knock on doors, she’ll go into shops she’ll chase them up at the weekend’.  When asked if her heart sinks when the rejection letter comes Sian responds ‘ No, (because) I don’t accept it. I keep going at them till they change their mind’. 11T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

12  From the Headteacher's point of view a quality placement should be one where pupils are encouraged to look beyond the narrow horizons of their neighbourhood  For Sian quality also resides in the activities the pupils engage in on placement and how they are treated:  When I talk with employers I am clear about what I want for our pupils. In the medical centre for example, they will sit in with the doctor; at the library in town they will work as librarians; if they are with a solicitor they will go to court every day. One lad working in the hospital was given a research project where he was asking patients about their anti-emetic medication and his report was used by the staff. 12T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

13  42 (26%) professional placements (eleven in medical and pharmaceutical; eight in banking or accountancy; fourteen in architecture/design; three in legal organisations and six in management services or organisations where they were located in managerial areas)  34 (21%) placements in educational institutions, mainly primary or nursery schools and some FE college placements - arguably some of these WEPs could fit into in the professional category  37 (23%) in retail –these ranged from department stores to shoe shops and internet cafes  Remaining WEPs in a variety of organisations such as hotels, IT firms, etc. 13T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

14 Students responded as follows: 78% - ‘the school found it for me’ 8% - ‘found it on my own’  These figures serve to confirm the continued directive stance of Essex School with regard to identifying placements and matching them to their students.  This clashes, however with Sian’s statement that ‘it’s very much (the pupils’) choice’ So, what is happening?  The directive approach is there – however, it concerns the quality of WEPs available to the pupils. To the pupils they are found by the school; to the school the pupils can choose ( but only from a quality pool of WEPs) 14T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

15  69% felt they were treated like colleagues  64% ‘played an active role like a ‘real’ member of staff’  58% talked of work shadowing which helped them to understand more about the job.  Only 9% referred to carrying out basic tasks A student’s comments: I worked at a medical centre. I worked with different nurses and doctors as they taught me how to deal with different patients; how to enter information on the computer and how to carry out injections. My placement has helped me to decide on my career and I want to do something in the medical field. I am so much more confident now about talking to staff and being in a work environment. I have far greater expectations for my education and I feel my aspirations are higher. It has made a big difference to me and I am now even more excited about going to university. (Maham, Yr 12 student) T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference15

16 Students’ key responses were as follows:  Improved communication skills (89%)  Learning to work with people they didn’t know (89%)  Learning how to work with adults (86%)  Increased confidence (86%)  Increased sense of responsibility (83%)  Understanding what the job was like (78%)  Learning about the world of work (72%)  Widening their ideas about the type of job they can apply for (70%) T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference16

17  75% felt that their work experience placement had encouraged them to work much harder at school  70% said their ideas about future careers had been widened  Pupils were asked whether their decision about university had been influenced in any way by their experiences on placement, to which 69% said it had encouraged them to consider university as a serious option  50% said their WEP had given them the confidence to think about a career they did not think they’d be able to do  Note : There is a contrast for many pupils between the type of professional placement they experienced and the employment background of their family. This is best shown by the pupils’ comments 17T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

18  No one’s been to uni in my family. They’re in shop work. I did my placement in the children’s hospital and I really want to go to uni because of my placement.  My placement encouraged me to consider uni despite there being no one in my family at uni. Their jobs have been in factories and restaurants.  None of my family’s been to uni. My work experience was in the city council offices and the staff there encouraged me to consider uni. They treated me well and gave me responsible tasks. I was encouraged to attend meetings and to give my opinion.  I had a placement in a pharmacy. Working there’s motivated me to pursue my chosen career as a pharmacist. My family work in restaurants and are self-employed. One of my relatives went to university. 18T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

19  Data show that the number of professional placements has increased considerably since the previous research – from 15 to 42  Many students state that they are now intending to go on to university as a direct result of their placements.  In addition, students’ aspirations have been raised with regard to the types of future careers they are considering, i.e. 50% of students now say that they now have the confidence to explore careers they would not have aspired to before their placement 19T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

20  This research confirms the marked directive stance adopted by Essex School in terms of students’ freedom to choose their own placements.  However, there is a subtlety to this stance in that the lack of choice is linked more to the quality of placements than to where a pupil chooses to go.  Furthermore, it is evident that the programme forms just one part, albeit a significant one, of the school’s overall strategy of enhancing their pupils’ psychological capital and addressing the dearth of social capital amongst their families 20T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

21  Highly committed staff  Extremely low staff turnover (‘1% if that in 2011’)  Ethos of achievement within the school (82% + 5A*-C grades at GCSE)  High expectations of their pupils (dress, behaviour, etc.)  Strong relationships with parents, the local community and employers  The Headteacher believes the interventionist approach is vital in Essex School’s efforts to fully support their students - We have to be the parent for our pupils…Our directing them means showing them a different side of life. 21T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference

22  In Hatcher & Le Gallais’s (2008) research there was a belief on the part of certain school staff that some employers preferred to take grammar school pupils. It just seems that all the vets’ jobs and all the high flying jobs, the journalist jobs and things like that, the accountancy jobs and the surveyors’ jobs, all the placements are harder to get because those placements have already gone to grammar school students. (Teacher, middle SES school, Cumbria) It is because you are a grammar school, because some people will know you, you get offers of some jobs that other schools may not, I would imagine, but I don’t know. Because you know, they feel they can cope with things that perhaps, other kids from other schools might struggle with… (Teacher, high SES school, Avon)  Clearly this is not the case for Essex pupils – it would be interesting now to explore the employers’ story – my next piece of research perhaps? 22T Le Gallais BCU E&E Conference


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