Brandon Thomas drives a Broads Auttority boat on the river in Norwich

Employers Praised For Embracing Work Experience Programme

Posted on: 26th June 2017

Employers in and around North Walsham have been praised for rising to the challenge of providing work experience placements for the towns high school students – with every single one of the 127 Year 10 students at North Walsham High School successfully finding a placement this year.

Students spent two weeks earlier this month in a wide variety of workplaces, learning not just about individual jobs, but about what the world of work looks like, and what skills and disciplines are required to succeed in a real job.

“Work experience gives students the opportunity to experience all the things that make the world of work,” said Kate Lawn, who co-ordinates the work experience programme at NWHS.  “It gives our students valuable lessons about things like getting up on time, working with others, problem solving and dealing with people.

“Taking them out of school and out of their comfort zone gives them experiences they couldn’t have in the classroom.  It’s a two week snippet of what to expect in the future.

“Work experience is also invaluable in helping young people make career choices.  That can work both ways – some students come back enthused and sure that they have found the career they want to pursue; others will try something and then realise they want to explore other career options.  Both are really valuable at the Year 10 stage.

“Our students are very different when they come back from their work experience placements.  We see a dramatic change in their confidence levels, and for many, it puts into sharp focus what they are working for in school.  If they are enthused about following a particular career path, it can help them focus on achieving the exam success they need to follow that ambition.”

Mrs Lawn thanked all of the employers who took part in this year’s work experience programme , and encouraged them and other employers to consider taking students on work experience next year.

“We will be starting to recruit employers to take part in September, and we would be delighted to speak now with anyone who might be able to offer a placement next year,” she said.

Any employer wanting more information about the North Walsham High School work experience programme can contact Kate Lawn at

Case Study: Brandon Thomas

15 year-old Brandon Thomas from Mundesley spent two weeks on work experience with the Broads Authority, out and about on one of their patrol boats.

Working from 8am to 8pm each day, his fortnight coincided with a busy time for the Authority, with extra security measures in place on the river in Norwich for the two Take That concerts at Carrow Road – during which Brandon found himself working alongside MOD personnel as well as Broads Authority officers.

Other activity included mooring boats for customers, weeding and litter picking, as well as learning boat handling skills.

“Every day was different – I hadn’t realised how many different types of people you get to deal with on an urban riverway,” said Brandon.  “I particularly enjoyed dealing with customers and meeting people.  Being able to interact with all sorts of people has improved my confidence.

“I have also learnt a lot about the Norfolk Broads, and about boating.  You need to know all about the tides, which means calculating the different times that high and low water will happen on different parts of the Broads network.”

Brandon says that young people looking for work experience placements should think about what will help them as individuals rather than necessarily choosing something they want to pursue as a career.

“I would say that you should look on what you want to improve on as a person, and find something that will help you do that.  I found the experience helpful – I didn’t expect the huge variety of things I would be doing.”

Case Study: Ollie Shield

15-year-old Ollie Shield from North Walsham was looking for the perfect recipe for success when it came to his work experience placement – and found it in the kitchens of the Amber Bar and Grill at Cromer Country Club, where he spent two weeks hard at work on the stoves.

Long hours are part of the job in any commercial kitchen, and just because he was on work experience didn’t mean that Ollie was spared from the heat of front-line catering.

“I ended up working 10am to 9pm, which was tiring,” said Ollie.  “It was pretty full-on, with mornings spent prepping vegetables, and then really frantic when mealtimes happened.  I was thrown right into it, cooking dishes such as crab starters, steaks and Stroganoff.

“I had to learn a lot of skills from scratch, from knife skills to presentation of food – I certainly learned a lot.  It is the first time I have worked full-time hours, which was a shock – I was pleased to get back to school!”

Ollie says the secret to making a work experience placement successful is to pick something which really appeals.  “It’s going to be hard work, so do something you’re going to enjoy, something you really want to do.”

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