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Agenda item

Response to Recommendations from Rotherham Youth Cabinet's Children's Commissioner Takeover Challenge Spotlight Review on Work Experience


Cllr Watson – Work experience was discussed in depth last year at the CCTOC. We spent a lot of time talking about the reasons why work experience was important and why some schools found it more difficult to deliver valid work experience for every student. Having spent time doing that, there was a need to do an in-depth review. Those of us who work in education could see why it was very valuable to have work experience but understand the challenges associated with it for schools, who would really like the whole year group out at once. This would mean needing 200/250 places for each small area of Rotherham that students would want to look at, so actually this would mean 400-500 work experience placements for a sensible choice. Schools tend to want to do it towards the end of year 10 – so it becomes more of an issue if six schools were all choosing the same two weeks, meaning you would really need 3000 places at the same time. So it was viewed as problematic even though those of us who had been on work experience and those who worked in education had seen the value of work experience on attitudes to learning when people returned. We knew it was really valuable but it was about making it work and the spotlight review was very helpful.


Jon Stonehouse - Reiterating some of Cllr Watson’s comments, Pepe and I met with Youth Cabinet a few weeks ago to talk about how to progress some of the recommendations that had been made. We talked about central Government education policy and difficulties that it presented in meeting all the recommendations made.  We spent a considerable amount of time discussing variability of current provision and what might be done through Rotherham Education Strategic Partnership and the new Skills Plan to advocate on behalf of young people to increase and improve work experience. We heard personal experiences of Youth Cabinet Members in respect of the responsiveness of schools to their desire to be involved in work experience, which presented a varied picture. We agreed to think about how we can promote good practice that exists in the borough with a view to encouraging all schools to adapt this and take it on. We are very happy to continue ongoing dialogue with Youth Cabinet as we attempt to take this work forward.


Cllr Sansome – The Employment and Skills Plan cannot just be around public sector employers, it has to capture all employers across the borough. “Blue Flag” employers should be involved.


Paul Woodcock – That is exactly right and one of the reasons for recommendations to put this in the Employment and Skills Plan is that the plan goes through the Employment and Skills Board and the Growth Board. A sub-set of which is business led around employment and skills. It is pleasing that they are engaged across the field.


Last week was one of the biggest events with young people – Get Up 2 Speed (GUTS) at Magna. I went and it was very busy with lots of employers there from the private sector, but not exclusively. Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and Advanced Manufacturing Park employers were all represented.


Jenny Lawless – Through our 25 enterprise advisors, employers are working with schools to increase employer encounters and schools can visit employers. We are linked in with schools, special schools and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) as well.  This work is supporting schools to help them to achieve the eight Gatsby benchmarks. These are not all necessarily around work experience but also about learning about different labour market opportunities and increasing meaningful employer encounters (Gatsby 5) including workplace visits. The benchmarks will be included in the Employment and Skills Plan.


I have met with colleagues in the local authority to discuss the Council leading by example to bring young people in, such as offering visits so people can look at what jobs there are in the local authority. We have recently appointed and got representation from schools to attend the Business Growth Board – special schools and mainstream schools are on board. 


Cllr Sansome – That last part was one of my follow up questions around including young disabled people. I understand austerity and the financial pressures on business but it would be a reassurance that when people say that they want to go to events that these opportunities are meaningful. Succession planning is important for people and businesses and I would like to see this pushed on in the plan.


Jenny Lawless – Regarding young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), feedback from careers leads in Special Schools is that at the STEM event it would have been useful to have a quieter period at the event for people with SEND so they can take in all of what is happening. We had more schools attend from Rotherham than ever before, which is positive and reflects the growing links and it is good to see that it has been well attended.  I can feed back to John Barber about creating a special section to enable young people with SEND to get to the exhibits.


Cllr Cusworth – I wonder how we are engaging children who attend schools who do not engage with these initiatives, such as PRUs and including home educated children?


Jenny Lawless – Two PRUs are engaging really well with the enterprise advisor network programme and I am pleased that we are the only authority in the Sheffield City Region (SCR) who has PRUs attending these meetings. Rotherham is being held up as a beacon and people want to know what we are doing for young people with SEND through the network. With regard to young people educated at home, I have had a tentative conversation with someone recently but it is hard to know how to get into this as it is about parental choice, but we are making good progress there with the PRUs.


Toni Paxford – We have been in conversations with John Barber from Workwise who organises the event and he is looking at doing something similar just for young people with SEND, with a separate event considered so they can attend at any time rather than a set time.


Jenny Lawless – We have an officer who attends the steering group for GUTS, so that is one way forward. We are looking at putting on a careers event at Lifewise in Hellaby to incorporate some STEM activities in that and can discuss this with John Barber.


Cllr Mallinder – How do you evaluate work experience, is there an exit interview? Is there a record of young people who go on to jobs following their work experience?


Jenny Lawless – We do not organise work experience per se as we are not funded for that and it is schools who are supposed to organise work experience. If a school approached us to arrange a visit, for example to the Advanced Manufacturing Park, that could be organised through RiDO.  Neither do we have the resources, capacity or funding to collate information from work experience.  We do feed back to employers but it is down to the individual school.


Pepe Di’Iasio – Wales School does work experience with evaluation and follow up and I assume others do too. I know anecdotally that it does happen and after investing the time and effort I am sure other schools will.



1)    That the OSMB will monitor that the work is carried out as promised to the young people.

Emilia Ashton (Rotherham Youth Cabinet) assumed the Chair and expressed how pleased she was to see the Chamber so full.


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