At the beginning of term, our Year 10 students completed their work experience: they each spent the week with a different company or organisation, getting used to a full day's work! Here are some of the things they got up to, and some of the feedback we had from their placements:
Ella worked at Brightwell cum Sotwell CofE Primary School. Here's what they said about her: "Ella has made a great contribution to our school - she has joined in with everything, experienced life as a TA and Teacher with every year group and has been enthusiastic. She has shown great initiative and has been a pleasure to work with!" - Mrs Lewis, Headteacher
Jo Chai, Store Manager of The Entertainer, Didcot, was pleased to have Dean joining the team. During some staff sickness, Dean stepped up to fill the gap as best he could!
"Dean was massive help to us and I don’t know what we would have done without him. He was polite and helpful to colleagues and customers alike, very proactive and able to take instruction and complete tasks quickly and efficiently. Dean was completing tasks that would normally be done by my more experienced team members to a very high standard. Dean should be very proud of himself and I even had some comments from another store manager and our area manager about how helpful he was."
Finn worked at Oxford University Press. They told us, "He has had a great week doing picture research, user testing, designing a cover, taking part in a marketing group 'huddle' among other things! He has been punctual and polite and taken on everything we have thrown at him with gusto."
Travis, working at SCM Construction, was, "Exceptionally polite and well mannered. He was interested in the trade, particularly brickwork. An advocate for his school!"
Maff Potts, Director of Camerados, was very pleased with Freya: "Freya learnt all about our social movement and its background in homelessness and social justice.
"She visited a design studio and talked with designers and helped package and post out our “Public Living Room in a Box” to around the UK as well as to Australia and USA. Then she got really creative and came up with great new notices for our Public Living Room - very artistic. Her ideas for wording were better than mine and I founded this organisation!
"We are LOVING working with her and would offer her an internship in a heartbeat."
Kirsty worked at Sacred Heart Primary School, Henley-on-Thames, where they had this to say about her: "Kirsty was an absolute delight. She was punctual and showed great willingness to involve herself in order to get the most out of her work experience. A great ambassador for Wallingford School."
Noah worked for design company SomeOne in London. He created a design for a church from a brief, and enjoyed working and learning how to use all their design programs.
Audrey was hard at work at Ariat, learning all about product development and the chain from factory to the customer; about website development; dealing with customer complaints; and organizing client data in line with the new Data Protection Act requirements. She sat in on a board room meeting and experienced her first conference call!
GTI Media Ltd (one of our top placements) has given us some really great feedback with all of our 5 students too. They all did exceptionally well. They were so impressed with Abigail’s standard of writing that one of the articles she wrote was published on their website (and uploaded to that web site by another of our students, Olivia!).
Harri visited a Norwegian family member last year, and became very interested in her work there. She asked if it would be possible to do her work experience in Norway – working at the Birkenes Town Council.
Prior to her work experience, Harri visited the Mayor of Wallingford, Mr Kidley, who kindly gave her a tour of the Town Hall and discussed the makeup of our town council and what Wallingford has to offer. Harri left with some literature that she could take to the town council in Norway, to discuss and compare the two towns with the Mayor of Birkenes.
It took two flights on the Sunday, but there was little time to rest as they had a busy week planned for her. First thing on the Monday, Harri had coffee with the Mayor of Birkenes, then was stationed at the service desk at the town council for the rest of the day - collating a book of walks, franking post and then a well-deserved break with one of the walks after work.
During the week, she spent a day at an outdoor school with a class of 6 year olds, a day in an elderly people’s home, shadowed the mayor and attended a seminar with a manager. If you’re fluent in Norwegian, you can read more here:
Innocent managed to get a job out of his work experience! They said about him, "Innocent has been outstanding and made a real contribution in his week here. We have offered him a paid Saturday job from September."
Faris learned lots of new skills at A W Grace & Son, Turnpike Forge. He started with the most important job of the day - a little tea and coffee making! And then moved to the forge to work with blacksmith Matt, where he added seed imprints to the centre of a sunflower sundial, and made a snail.
There were lots of others, but we don't have room to include them all. However, Freddy gave us a detailed account of his time at University College London (UCL), in the Mullard Space Science Laboratories:
"I was working with a group of scientists on the European Space Agency’s Gaia Project.
"During this week I was engaged in examining spectra for the radial velocity calculations. The radial velocity calculations are calculations used to work out how fast a star is moving along the line of sight of the viewer. This means that the movement is invisible to the viewer, and, as star size and brightness are not affected greatly, can only be calculated by the red- or blue-shift of spectrographic lines, caused by the absorption of light by calcium in the stars’ atmosphere. When an object is moving away from a viewer it becomes mildly redder in colour. Conversely, when it is moving closer, then it becomes mildly bluer. It is possible to observe this measuring the particular colours absorbed by a gas in the atmosphere of a star (as previously stated, we used calcium).
"My cousin, who I was working with, was wondering whether a thing called ‘undulations’ affected the calculations for radial velocity (RV). Undulations are a long, wavelike change in the spectra (which are represented by a plot of wavelength of the light against its intensity at that wavelength). Whether they affect the RV of the spectra, it’s not yet known, but it’s good to have a diagnostic anyway, so we decided to have a look at the RSS value of the spectra. The RSS is the residual sum of squares. After working out the difference between the value and what it is expected to be, you square it (meaning that previously negative values are positive) and then sum it. This means that the dips caused by the undulations would count as much as the rises. I used a tool for looking at tables, called Topcat, to be able to rank all the spectra by their RSS values. By looking at this I discovered that there were in fact four main peaks in the distribution of spectra, against their RSS. This was interesting as it was expected to have a standard distribution (a bell curve, look it up).
"As well as looking at the spectra, I was given many opportunities to look around the lab. For example, I was shown around the clean room, where they are testing instruments for future space missions. It was really fun to see all the things that go on, in order to put something in space.
"Over the placement I found the environment very different to that of a school one. It was, for example, more relaxed about when I had lunch. But with this came a massive jump in the requirements in initiative, a quality which is not my strong point. I was often unsure of what to do, once I had finished a task. This proved a problem as my cousin (who found the work experience there) was also working, and so wasn’t always able to supervise me. I also found that the people there were nice, and that, despite apprehensions on my part, I didn’t need to have many interactions with them.
"In all, I feel that work experience was incredibly useful. It helped to show me many of the skills I would need to get a job in academia, as well as the paths in it that I might want take. It has also helped me to learn more about the aims of more specific projects, which are much wider than I had anticipated."