Work Experience & Social Mobility: Understanding the Issue and Bucking the Trend

This seminar focused on the problem of work experience favouring those with social capital rather than promoting social mobility.

Abstract: Work experience has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of young people. Unfortunately, according to research carried out by Hatcher & Le Gallais in 2008, all too often work placements tend powerfully to reflect and reproduce patterns of social class inequality with working class kids getting working class placements and middle class pupils experiencing the benefits of ‘professional placements’. However, as further research undertaken in 2011 identifies, one inner city school in the West Midlands is successfully bucking this trend.

Dr Richard Hatcher is Professor of Education at Birmingham City University. He has written widely on education policy with a particular reference to issues of democracy and social justice. He is currently researching the changing structure and role of local authorities, funded by the British Academy and BELMAS. Recent publications include:

Hatcher, R. (2011) Liberating the supply-side, managing the market. In Hatcher, R. and Jones, K. (eds) No Country for the Young: education from New Labour to the Coalition. London: Tufnell Press.

Hatcher, R. (2011) Social class and schooling: differentiation or democracy? In Cole, M. (ed) Education, Equality and Human Rights. (3rd edition). London: Routledge Falmer.

Dr Tricia Le Gallais career in education has involved working in three sectors, namely in secondary, where she taught modern languages, further education where she worked as a researcher and thirdly in higher education where she now works for Birmingham City University as a teacher trainer and researcher. Her MA thesis explored mentoring in secondary schools and her PhD, focused on ICT, construction lecturers and professional identity. Recent research undertaken with Professor Richard Hatcher (Birmingham City University), includes an exploration of work experience programmes in secondary schools and a study of young learners’ experiences of the 14-19 Diploma (Level 2).

Download Richard Hatcher’s and Tricia Le Gallais’s presentation