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Work experience debriefing essential says Trident

Work experience debriefing essential says Trident

Trident Trust, the UK’s largest provider of work experience and employability projects, has praised those schools across the country that are integrating work experience into their core curriculum.

A YouGov survey of Year 11 student has revealed that the majority of young people enjoy their work experience and feel that employers support them, but well over half of those surveyed were disappointed at the lack of follow-up from some schools. But The Trident Trust points out that a growing number of schools are now implementing debrief sessions themselves or working withThe Trident Trust to help the students relate their work experience into their school curriculum.

According to Paul Poulter, chief executive at The Trident Trust: “We provide work experience placements for thousands of schools across the UK with more than 90,000 employers, and we do understand that some schools find it difficult to dedicate time to a proper discussion on their work experience. But an increasing number are now recognising that students gain the most from their work experience if they talk through the outcomes at school afterwards. Trident is making this easier through its Portfolio of Projects - specific projects related to more than 33 industries. These projects help both the employer, student and school by providing a project framework for the student which they can then take back into the classroom afterwards.”

Paul adds that it’s not just talking through the work experience afterwards that’s important, though, good preparation is essential too.

“In many schools Trident runs ‘employability’ sessions with students, covering a range of issues from the importance of good communication and time-keeping at work, to health and safety briefings and how to write a CV. This helps them to understand what may be expected of them in their place of work and helps build their confidence.

“Afterwards we recommend that schools dedicate time with the students, generally in groups, to discuss their experiences, compare notes with others and report back, either verbally, through a diary or a written project. Some of the reports the students have written have been inspiring*.”

If schools find it difficult to provide a suitable debriefing session, The Trident Trust is often able to provide experienced staff to work with the children. Other more forward-thinking schools have already developed a debrief system that integrates well with its Key Stage 4 curriculum.

Case Study

Chris Richardson is Head Teacher at St Peter’s Catholic Comprehensive School, Guildford, Surrey, catering for 1030 students aged 11-18.

“We have 180 students each year out on work experience every November, some of whom are on extended work experience – that’s one or two days a week spent at an employers over a period of months, others do a week’s work experience. Trident has organised our work placements for many years.

“We do a preliminary preparation which includes a health and safety briefing and we ask them to write a diary of their week, which we discuss during a thorough debrief afterwards. We tie this into our careers programme as we feel it’s part of their overall career’s experience and education.

“The debrief session is carried out during the first two periods on their first day back at school, whilst their experiences are still at the forefront of their minds. We organise them into small groups so they each have the chance to discuss their placement and voice their opinions on their week. Young people often don’t think hard about their experiences, but this gives them the opportunity to talk and reflect on what they’ve learned. They also show their diaries, which are looked at by their tutors and which can then form part of their portfolio and record of achievement. They can also be used as part of their ‘personal statement’ that each student has to prepare. Finally, they write a letter of thanks to their employer, and we check that this has been done.”

Chris explains that during the work experience, the teachers visit some of the placements in person and make contact by telephone with others, so that the school tracks each student and the employer feels they have the school’s support.

“The employers value this contact and so do our students. The staff also enjoy visiting the work placements and it gives them a greater understanding of what the students have experienced so they can discuss it more fully later – it also helps with our employer evaluation. Finally, the employer writes a report on the student, which they give to Trident and I’m always delighted on how complimentary many of these reports are. It’s the reports on some of our more challenging pupils which give me the greatest pleasure as they are often very positive, and show that just because a student doesn’t fit in well at school, it doesn’t mean that they won’t do well in the workplace.”

Chris Richardson is available for interview at selected times, contact Nicky Godding for details on 07966 510401

* Work Experience reports written by students are available

About The Trident Trust:

The Trident Trust is an established educational charity that has existed for 30 years to help young people aged 14-25 prepare for life beyond the classroom. It does this through improving their employability and enterprise skills, helping them to develop as individuals. Trident is the largest co-ordinator of work experience in the UK and works with key industries developing project portfolios with employers to help students make the most of their work experience.

Trident currently works with The London Stock Exchange, bringing the worlds of business and finance together with secondary school teachers. It also runs a citizenship project for young people, sponsored by Deutchebank ( and has a dedicated website highlighting health and safety issues young people are likely to meet in the workplace:

Every year Trident places more than 140,000 students with 90,000 employers across the UK.
For more information on The Trident Trust visit

PR contact: Nicky Godding, Nicky Godding Communications, Glebe Farm House, The Street, Daglingworth, Cirencester, Glos GL7 7AE. Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1285 653006. email: Mobile: +44 (0) 7966 510401