WORK EXPERIENCE POLICY
Work experience is one of the most important activities linking employers and educational establishments. Work experience has also formed an integral part of 16-19 study programmes from September 2013.
Exposure to the world of work is a significant step in preparing young people for adult and working life. Schools and colleges will be expected to offer their students high quality and meaningful engagement with employers to give the student a valuable experience of the work environment and develop their employability skills. Taking part in work experience schemes is one route to achieving this aim.
Definition (DfE 16-19 study programmes)
a. The DfE defines work experience as ‘a placement on employers’ premises in which a learner carries out a particular task or duty, or range of tasks or duties, more or less as would an employee, but with the emphasis on the learning aspects of the experience.’
b. Definitions of young people and children by age:
i. A young person is anyone under 18 and
ii. A child is anyone who has not yet reached the official minimum school leaving age (MSLA). Pupils will reach the MSLA in the school year in which they turn 16.
c. The DfE definition of meaningful work experience is:
i. Purposeful, substantial, offers challenge and is relevant to the young persons’ study programme and/or career aspirations.
It is managed well under the direction of a supervisor in order to ensure that the student obtains a genuine learning experience suited to their needs.
ii. It ensures that time is well spent: the employer has prepared a structured plan for the duration of the work placement that provides tangible outcomes for the student and employer.
iii. It provides up-front clarity about the roles, responsibilities and the expectations of the student and employer.
iv. It is reviewed at the end: the employer provides some form of reference or feedback based on the young person’s performance during their time on the work placement.
Work experience that is well-planned and well-organised has an important role in developing students’ employability skills, personal and social skills and helps them learn about the world of work. The key message is for placements to be “meaningful”
The Governing Body
The role of the governing body is to ensure the work experience policy is up to date and monitoring that work experience is delivered effectively. They will ensure that:
i) The Work Experience Policy is correct and details the school’s arrangements meet all requirements.
ii) There are resources and time allocated to Work Experience.
iii) When purchasing a work experience service from a ‘Placement Organiser’, all· aspects of this policy are met, that there is evidence of this in the provision and that monitoring arrangements are in place.
The Education Establishment
i. Must take reasonable steps to satisfy yourself that employers are managing significant risks to ensure the suitability of all placements. This can be organised directly by the education establishment.
ii. Should understand that repeated checks are not necessary for a new student where an employer is known has a good track record and the student’s needs are no different to those on past placements. In terms of the checks these need to be in proportion to the environment. I.e. a low-risk environment, such as an office, with everyday risks that will mostly be familiar to the student does not need as extensive checks as a high risk placement i.e. construction.
iii. Must discuss with the employer what work the student will be doing or observing, the risks involved and how these are managed
iv. Must ensure employers know in advance about students who might be at greater risk, for example due to health conditions or learning difficulties, so they can take these properly into account. Consent must be obtained from parents/carers to provide medical, personal or other sensitive information.
v. Must inform students of the significant findings of the risk assessment and the controls put in place for their safety. If under minimum school leaving age, parents/carers must be informed and give their consent in writing.
vi. Must ensure that the same health and safety regulations apply to students who find their own placements or are placed within their own family business
vii. Must properly brief students before taking part in work experience. This should include their responsibilities for health and safety. Students should have a named person to contact if they have any health and safety or safeguarding issues during the placement.
viii. Must ensure that Students are effectively supported during the placement and debriefed afterwards.
The Education Establishment must be satisfied that the employer has:
i. Systems in place to ensure the health, safety and welfare, so far as is reasonably practicable, of the student while under their control.
ii. Developed arrangements for managing risks. This will need to include induction, supervision, site familiarisation, and any protective equipment that might be needed
iii. Has the competence to manage health and safety in relation to the placement
iv. Arranged supervision of work experience by competent staff
v. Understood the specific factors relevant to employing young people i.e. Restrictions on work for young people, Prohibited work for young people, Working time requirements specific to young people
vi. Has understood his or her primary responsibility for the health and safety of the student and should be managing any significant risks
Where work experience students are on an educational establishment roll, accidents must be reported by the employer to the establishment and recorded in an incident form. The first priority is the well being of the young person and communicating with parents and carers who should be notified immediately if treatment is required beyond a minor injury.
Schools must report all incidents involving students on work placement activities to their employer (Governing body or the LA) at the earliest possible opportunity.
Employer (placement provider)
i. Learners on work experience placements with an employer are regarded in health and safety law as their employees
ii. The employer has primary responsibility for the health and safety of the student and is to manage any significant risks
iii. Existing risk management arrangements may well be OK, but review where necessary and Employers with fewer than 5 employees do not a need a written risk assessment
iv. The employer controls in proportion to level of risk in working environment, and discuss with organiser in advance
v. The employer should have arrangements for explaining risks to student and parents, and for recording assessment in writing where necessary
vi. If the existing assessment does not provide for a young person, the employer should consider any specific arrangements required for the student, and keep a record of these.
vii. If there was an accident, an employer would need to show evidence of reasonable measures taken to control the risks, eg that the student had been advised of potential risks and control measures, or that appropriate levels of supervision and training had been provided where necessary.
Employers’ liability compulsory insurance
The insurance industry has committed to treat work experience students as employees. Therefore they will be covered by existing employers’ liability compulsory insurance policies.
DBS checks (formally CRB)
The Home Office has made changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2012. This means that employers are no longer able to carry out DBS checks on staff supervising young people aged 16 to 17 on work experience
Further information and advice
The new Health and Safety Executive guidance is available at: