Rapid Responses

Work experience

[Re: Rigour in GCSE’s is essential but we need students fit for business, yesterday]

While it’s important to provide children with work experience, there must be guidelines to ensure it is meaningful. In my last year of secondary school, I was allocated a two week stint in a local supermarket, while I watched my friends enjoy paid work at law firms. What did I learn from this experience? Nothing. I skipped the last day and nobody questioned it. It’s not enough to simply tick the “work experience” box, nor is it right to give children a false idea of their future. Partnerships with business need improving, and the standard of experience offered must be more uniform to give school-leavers real insight to what their future holds.

Hayden Lloyd

Peter Searle makes a good case for using education to prepare young people for work. But he misses a broader point. Yes, fundamental skills like numeracy and literacy are important to employers. But teaching students how to become good scientists, or innovative engineers, or cultural pioneers won’t be accomplished through some uniform, national scheme. Education is often tediously described as lighting a fire rather than filling a bucket. Searle’s scheme proposes too much bucket-filling, and too little ignition. We need to provide young people with the basic tools and curiosity to succeed in any area of our diverse economy – not simply to become identikit employable clones.

Sophie Purdy

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