Sheffield pupils at work in heart of London

Connie Barton of Wales High School
Connie Barton of Wales High School

As many schools decide to ditch time spent out in the world of work for their pupils, Wales High School is bucking the trend.

The Sheffield School that prides itself on ‘doing things differently’ maintains and values its block placements for work experience for year 10 pupils.

A preconception that work experience is just about sweeping floors or shelf-stacking could not be further from the truth, says the school, and this year some Wales students have landed dream placements in exciting science and industry settings.

One student, Connie Barton, will make her way to London’s famous Harley Street. She will join possibly the world’s best recognised and respected cosmetic surgeon, Dr Aamer Khan.

Connie said: “I have been an admirer of Dr Khan’s work for a long time. My ambition is to go into cosmetic dentistry or surgery so this is the best possible start for me. When he agreed to take me on I was absolutely delighted”.

Also in London is Michael Senior, who was accepted by multi-national auditing and professional services company Ernst and Young. He has stayed with relatives while working on IT development, designing web apps for the healthcare industry.

Michael said: “They gave me a list of tasks to choose from and I’m really excited to be working for such a prestigious company.”

An unusual placement was found by student Jake Robinson at the Bateson Centre Zebrafish aquarium, part of the University of Sheffield. “One of our Cub Scout Leaders works in the department, and after a talk at Scouts on zebrafish husbandary, I was interested in her work so decided to ask her if she’d take me for work experience and she agreed,” said Jake.

“My job involves feeding and caring for the fish, sorting embryos and cleaning the equipment. It’s fascinating”.

A school careers spokesman said: “Our students will learn more about employment and the world of work than we could ever teach them in a classroom.

“We like to think it gives them an edge in the jobs market and employers have told us how much they value students who have undertaken placements. Some schools are more like exam factories – that is definitely not the Wales way.”

One student with a local placement is Georgia Mason, working with the laboratory team at Greencore Prepared Meals. She said: “I’d really like a career in Genetics or Microbiology, so I asked our Careers Teacher what she would recommend. She put me in touch with the Lab Manager at Greencore and I’ve been helping to analyse the microbiological quality of food produced here.

“I’ve been making up agar plates, learning the importance of aseptic technique, counting bacterial colonies from samples of food, and I’ve had a tour of the factory. It’s a great placement!”

It’s not just Year 10 students who are encouraged to find experience in work. A group of year 11 and 12 students with interest in medicine will spend some time at Dinnington Group Practice. George Cook, Anthony Lockwood, Rebecca Portas, Eleanor Hodgson, Chloe Sarginson and Nakiso Bvunzawabaya are all involved.

George Cook said: “Clinical experience is so difficult to get and I’m really hoping that an experience like this will give me an advantage when I apply to Medical School next year.”