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English schools 'must do more to prepare young people for working'

25/11/2016 Joanna

A new study from Ofsted has indicated that England's secondary schools need to do more to prioritise enterprise education and work-related learning.

The report, entitled Getting Ready for Work, showed that only four of the 40 secondary schools visited by Ofsted inspectors were demonstrating an effective approach to this aspect of the curriculum, despite recommendations for decisive action in this area in a report by Lord Young from 2014.

Although many of the schools assessed were making some effort to prepare young people for the world of work, it was often unclear whether any impact on pupils' knowledge, understanding and skills was being achieved. Instead, students who spoke to inspectors during their visits frequently described their experience as a series of one-off events with no clear sense of progression.

Moreover, in 32 of the 40 schools visited, there was no monitoring to check whether opportunities to gain enterprise knowledge or employability skills were taken up by different groups of pupils. The extent to which this issue was prioritised was also shown to depend heavily on whether school leaders considered it to be a priority, with pressures on finance and curriculum time often cited as reasons to neglect the issue.

Some schools offered work experience to a small group of pupils, but organising these opportunities was often seen as time-consuming and impractical. Additionally, partnerships between schools and local businesses relied heavily on the personal networks of teachers and parents, with many arising solely because certain parents were well-connected - potentially resulting in disadvantaged pupils missing out.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools and head of Ofsted, said: "The career choices that young people make can be informed by the practical experience they gain at school.

"It is really important that schools are providing the right opportunities, working effectively with local businesses to offer their pupils the chance to understand how businesses work. This is even more important for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds."

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