English teacher, Jo Washburn led Words for Work at Bournville School

Jo Washburn, an English teacher at Bournville School in Birmingham, led our Words for Work scheme as she thought it would be a good opportunity for her students. She said:

“I thought it was important that our pupils were taught employability and communication skills.”

The aim of phase 1 of the Words for Work programme is to engage students in the project, which is heavily reliant on staff enthusiasm and commitment. The first phase was delivered to Year 10 during Learning for Life lessons by their form tutors, rather than the English department. This reinforced the idea that speaking and listening is a skill needed in day-to-day life, rather than just 'something they do in English.'

The programme’s second phase was delivered to a small group of students with the objective of improving confidence and attainment. The students loved working with the volunteers. Jo added:

“I think they felt more 'grown up' and were able to ask the volunteers lots of questions about their work. They gained an insight into communication in the workplace and it’s obvious they are much more confident now.”

At the celebration event, one group of students presented to the whole audience, which they would not have done at the start of the programme. In their GCSE speaking and listening assessment, most of the Words for Work students achieved their target grade or higher. Jo concluded:

“Words for Work can take a lot of organisation, but it is definitely worth it. It's probably one of the best things I've done in my teaching career. The students are still talking about it!"