All pupils will have to do work experience

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The Independent Online

All state school pupils from the age of 14 are to be compelled to do work experience from the beginning of the new term this autumn when a new national curriculum requirement comes into effect.

All state school pupils from the age of 14 are to be compelled to do work experience from the beginning of the new term this autumn when a new national curriculum requirement comes into effect.

Almost all 14 to 16-year-old children will be placed with local firms for about two weeks. Others will learn through part-time jobs or simulate work experience in further education colleges. It is part of a drive to dispel a growing myth that work experience is only for those pupils who are bored with the academic curriculum.

"It is for high-flyers, it is for people who are disaffected, it is for everyone," said Mike Cox, director of vocational programmes at the Learning and Skills Development Agency - which is pioneering its introduction. "If anyone asks if it is for low achievers, the answer is a straight 'no' - full stop."

Ministers believe that an early introduction to working life will help recruits arriving for their first day of work to adjust to the working environment.

Regional liaison committees - education business partnerships between firms and schools - have been set up to improve the quality of work experience on offer. Special lessons will also be introduced to teach working skills to pupils.

Students are expected to be asked to write up what they have learnt from their placements on completing them.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the Government's exams watchdog, describes the introduction of work experience as a "planned activity that uses the context of work to develop knowledge, skills and understanding, including learning through the experience of work, learning about work and working practices, and learning the skills for work".

The new drive is in addition to government plans announced earlier to allow disaffected 14 to 16-year-old pupils to spend up to three days a week out of school at college or work. About 90,000 youngsters have already enrolled on this scheme.

Ministers are also introducing young apprenticeships, which will allow 14-year-old pupils to work for two days a week in engineering, the motor trade, business and the arts or creative industries. This is also aimed at those reluctant to pursue an academic career.

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