Sixth formers double up as staff members in Student Employees scheme

May 9th, 2018

Students at Hull’s Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) are doubling up as part-time members of staff in a pioneering scheme reflecting the school’s focus on preparing them for the world of work.

The sixth formers have become employer-led Ron Dearing UTC’s first Student Employees, spending a few hours a week working side by side with teachers and support staff.

The scheme has begun with six 16 and 17-year-olds working as IT Assistants, Library Assistants or Cleaners and is set to grow, with five Literacy Assistants due to be appointed next month. More Student Employees will be taken on in September as a new group of sixth formers joins the school.

The students typically work 2.5 hours per week. For example, the IT Assistants work for 30 minutes either before or after the normal school day – which is itself longer than at traditional schools – setting up and putting away laptops and other digital devices used by fellow students.

The Library Assistants support the school’s Librarian in managing the library resources, provide additional support for the development of students’ literacy skills, and help to staff out-of-hours events.

The Cleaners work under the direction of staff from Sewell Facilities Management, which has the contract to maintain and clean the school buildings.

The roles were created after the newly-opened school’s leadership team identified there was a need for more support in a few specific areas. As the school required just a few hours of additional part-time work, they felt it was an ideal opportunity for their own students.

The Student Employees who are earning while learning, from left, Abigail Fowler, Joely Rhodes, Jay Gordon, Ben Campbell-Wilson and Matthew Hunt.

Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We find it’s quite difficult for young people to get part-time jobs and we felt it made perfect sense where we have work for just a few hours a week to employ our students to do it.

“It helps to develop their work ethic and gives them employability skills. Because they don’t have to leave school, they are able to combine the work very well with their studies and, of course, it also means they have a small income, which is great for them.

“The students have had to go through a formal recruitment process, as they would for a job outside school. So that gives them valuable experience of what’s involved in applying for a job.

“Now they are learning on the job about working as part of a team and independently, time management and the various other requirements and expectations of the world of work.”

The opportunities were advertised within the school and the successful students were appointed after a competitive process involving formal applications and job interviews. The Student Employees all have clearly defined roles and work to job descriptions.

They are paid £5 an hour, a little more than the National Minimum Wage of £4.20 for under 18s, via a bursary fund, meaning they can earn £50 a month during term time.

Student Joely Rhodes, 16, is working as a Library Assistant and has found the scheme has had an additional benefit – she has now gained a weekend job working for McDonald’s, helped by what she has learned by applying for and performing the duties of her school role.

She said: “I had applied for part-time jobs before but never got an interview. Applying for the Library Assistant job taught me what I needed to do and how best to present myself.

“So when I was interviewed for the McDonald’s job I was able to tell them about my work as a Library Assistant. I’m sure it really helped me to get the job.

“I don’t know of any other school or college doing this, but I think it’s really good idea. It’s definitely helped me and developed my confidence.”

Vice Principal Mark Ollerenshaw, who is overseeing the scheme, said: “Joely’s story is a really good example of the benefits of this scheme. It’s great to hear that she has now got a weekend job, helped by applying for and carrying out the Library Assistant role.

“This is a new initiative, but we’re already planning to expand it in the next few weeks and then develop it further with the next intake of sixth formers in September.

“The students learn a great deal from the work and benefit from initial and ongoing training specific to each role. It’s an excellent opportunity for them to earn while they learn and perform tasks that really add value to the school.”

Ron Dearing UTC has been established to develop a new pipeline of tech-savvy and work-ready young people. The school is backed by Founding Partners University of Hull; KCOM; RB; Siemens Gamesa; Smith & Nephew; Spencer Group; and a host of other leading businesses. It opened last September and will grow to a capacity of 600 students, aged 14 to 19, by September 2020.

The school is heavily over-subscribed with more than 400 applications so far for the 240 places available to join in Year 10 (aged 14) and Year 12 (age 16) in September this year. It means the school will be operating a waiting list for places.

Students or their parents/guardians can still apply for Year 12 here.

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