Work-related activities are most effective when pupils take part in a variety of activities and when the needs of higher and lower achievers are considered separately, teachers say.
The findings come from a new report by the Education and Employers research team. It analyses the opinions of 390 British secondary school teachers on the value of 16 different employer engagement and work-related activities. They included work experience, mentoring, enterprise competitions and careers events with local employers.
Teachers identified the activities they had first-hand knowledge of and how effective they thought each was in supporting pupils’ career progression and attainment. The survey also asked whether different types of pupils benefited from different types of activities. The view of teachers was that pupils should take part in a variety of work-related activities. Priority should be given to activities involving workplace experiences and engagement with real-world employee volunteers.
As a minimum, pupils should take part in one or more activity between the ages of 11 and 16 in each of three discrete areas.
The first area involves Career exploration and recruitment skills. Activities include career talks, career fairs, workplace visits, mock interviews and job shadowing. The second is skill development through Enterprise activities, such as one-day and long form enterprise competitions. The third category is sustained engagement with the working world. Activities include work experience, community volunteering and mentoring.
Finally, teachers said that pupils should not be treated as a homogeneous group. In particular, the needs of high and low achievers are distinct and they can be expected respond to activities in different ways. For example, teachers felt that higher achievers best responded to activities developing career thinking while lower achievers gained most from deep engagements with the workplace, notably work experience and mentoring.
Dr Anthony Mann, Director of Policy and Research at the Education and Employers Charity said:
“This rare study crowdsources the informed views of teaching professionals and provides significant new evidence about how schools can optimise their engagement with employers. It enables us to group activities in order to act more strategically and make work-related activities more effective for young people. It is a significant step forward in giving teaching staff a toolkit for practice which is fully informed by evidence.”
Claudia Harris, CEO of the Careers and Enterprise Company said:
“This excellent work by the Education and Employers Taskforce helps to set out the best way to target different careers and enterprise activities. We welcome the research and will ensure it informs our practice in the Enterprise Advisor Network.”