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Getting kids ready for an 8 to 5 working world

by mslforza on April 10th, 2013

A new Academy school is to put pupils on an 8am-5pm timetable, with up to four hours a week specifically focused on developing employability.

Carly Mitchell, principal designate at Oasis Academy South Bank, which is due to open in Waterloo this September, described the school vision last night at an event hosted last night by alumni networks provider Future First and law firm Osborne Clarke, and attended by Recruiter.

In addition to expanded hours, pupils will undertake between two and four hours of teaching or activities, including visits from outside speakers and project-based learning with employers, specifically aimed at developing what she calls employability skills. More casual careers engagement would include employers coming into school to have lunch with pupils.

She said the idea was that pupils would be “seeing it on their timetable as being as important as maths and English and science”. Mitchell added that educators must see careers and work-readiness not as a “separate or bolt-on or add-on thing” but “absolutely interlinked, completely married to the curriculum”.

Academy schools “must teach a broad and balanced curriculum, but do not have to follow the National Curriculum”, according to the Department for Education.

Another panellist Kevin Garrett, director of community projects at Waitrose, suggested the company would welcome students with soft skills better suited to the workplace. “Waitrose recruits for attitude and trains for skills, and that’s probably true of a good number of employers,” he said.

And smaller employers would also benefit, although SMEs are more likely to need hard skills as well, added panellist Carl Dawson, managing director of the National Graduate Apprenticeship Programme. He said: “Big companies, it’s all about the attitude; with small companies it’s [also] about the attitude – but they haven’t got the time to train them up.”

Panellists agreed that it was problematic if careers events at schools were just confined to occasional ‘drop-down days’. However, they agreed that such one-off events did have a part to play. “It doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment,” Mitchell says.

• As reported by earlier this month, another issue raised by Academies is that these new schools “will turn into group buyers” of recruitment services.

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