Work Experience at King’s during Year 12
As you are probably aware, one of the last weeks of the Summer term in Year 12 at The King’s School is used to extend the curriculum beyond the classroom, through having the opportunity for a work experience placement as part of Activities Week. In addition, your child will be in school for one day during the same week to finalise their Post 18 Application Personal Statement.
We appreciate that it may seem like a challenge for students to obtain a good quality, professional work placement while still at school, however, the vast majority of Year 12 students successfully arrange a valuable in-person work placement during this week.
In the last couple of years, since COVID restrictions were lifted, many employers have returned to offering work experiences for Year 12 students, so we hope that all this year’s students will be able to arrange a suitable placement. For those students who are unable to do so, we will support them to arrange a virtual work experience based in school for the week.
Finding work experience
One of the purposes of work experience is that it allows students to gain an insight into a career that they are interested in or wish to learn more about. The right work placement enables students to examine a career area in which they would like to gain more experience and knowledge, before making a career choice. It also enables them to become more aware of the structure and function of the industry sector, helping them to widen their career options. It can also further develop their skills, including communication, observation, analysis and interpersonal skills.
The most successful way of finding work experience is for students to find their own placement using family networks and the local area. Where you have contacts through friends and family it is likely to be considerably easier to arrange a relevant experience. It may also be possible for students to support each other with contacts to help them gain experience in their preferred sector.
Securing a work placement as early as possibly in Year 12 is generally helpful in gaining the most suitable work experience, with many larger private and public sector organisations opening their work experience applications earlier in the year, however this does vary by employer. Some smaller employers may consider requests for work placements later on in the year.
Students can start by discussing ideas for work experience with their parents or tutor They don't have to be limited by choosing something that they want to do as a career when they leave school. The aim is for them to experience life in an adult workplace. It might even be an advantage for them to do something different.
Confirming your work placement via Unifrog
- First, the student identifies a potential placement and contacts the employer to apply. Parents can also contact the employer on behalf of their child. Guidance to support students on how to approach employers is shared with both students and parents at the Year 12 work experience launch in the Autumn term.
- If accepted by the employer, the student will then need to add a Work Placement to Unifrog, adding the placement details and sending the employer the online form for them to complete, confirming the placement.
- Once the employer completes their form, confirming the placement, Unifrog will automatically send the details to the student’s parents to review and to give their permission online.
- Once parents have given their permission via Unifrog, the school receives the fully completed placement application for a final sign off.
Timescales and deadlines
As a number of local schools also run their work experience week at the same time of the year, it is important to get a placement organised as early as possible as it does become harder to find a placement the further through the year you get.
We encourage all Year 12 students to start their search for work experience as soon as the programme launches in October. We ask all students to add their work placement to Unifrog as soon as it’s agreed, so that we can identify and help any students that are still trying to secure a work placement early in the Spring term.
It’s worth noting that many larger companies, (e.g. banks, pharmaceutical, financial services, construction, NHS etc.) may have a formal centralised work experience programme, where applications can take some time to gain approval.
How to get contact details for companies and organisations
Having decided what sort of company you are looking for, you can find contact details in a number of places:
- Use a search engine like Google to do a search on the internet using search phrases that include the location or postcode e.g. "Solicitors, Peterborough"
- Think about local companies that you or your friends and family know that you could contact, and then look them up on the internet.
How to contact the company
There are several ways to contact a company or organisation to request a work placement:
- In person
- by phone
- by letter
- by email
- through social media
Larger companies may have information about work experience placements on their website in a careers section. If not, you are best to contact the Human Resources (HR) department who will normally deal with work experience requests. In a smaller company you will usually need to contact or speak to the Manager.
Email seems to be an effective way to contact a company, as it is very convenient for the company to reply to you. You will probably need to look at the company's website to get an email address. However, many companies get a lot of email requests, so you may need to follow it up with a second email or a phone call if you don’t hear anything.
It is best to contact several companies or organisations at the same time, sending an individual request to each one, as often you may not receive a reply at all or they may take several weeks to say "no". Don't get disheartened by this, it is nothing personal, they are usually just very busy! It’s important to approach several companies so that you have a number of options open to you.
Suggested outline for a letter or email to ask an employer for a placement
It is good practice to send emails directly to the person responsible for work experience, this ensures that your request is going to the correct person. However, if you are sending an email and don’t have an individual’s name or email address at the company, mark in the subject line who it’s for the attention of (FAO). For example, “FAO Human Resources” or “FAO The Manager”
If you are sending a letter it can be handwritten or typed your PC. Ideally it should be no longer than one side of A4 paper.
Remember – this is the first contact that you will have with an employer, and you therefore want to create a good impression, so do check that the following are correct:
- Presentation and layout
- Company name and address
- That you have the right dates for your work experience
Finally, please do make sure you personalise the email or letter you send to an employer, rather than just sending the same one to many different employers. You could perhaps include why you particularly would like to have work experience with them and what you would hope to learn from the experience.