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Joey Carey

Joey CareyHow do placement students fit into the work of City Year UK?

City Year believes in the power of young people to change the world.  Through a year of voluntary service, 18 to 25 year olds, known as corps members, make a difference to the life chances of school pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, and prepare themselves for a future of work and civic leadership.

What is a typical day for a placement student?

We assign our Corps Members to a school for a year, either primary or secondary schools. Adiatu was at a secondary school, and her typical day would start at 8am with a team meeting. After meeting the team and hearing the day's announcements and agenda, the first hour is spent in the school playground relationship building and engaging with students to see how they are.

Corps members then go and work in lessons supporting the teachers. They will also support lunchtime clubs, games, activities and after school clubs. The whole idea is to boost school attendance, improve students' behaviour and confidence, and help them achieve more by supporting the curriculum. ?

Are placement students important to City Year?

Yes, I think so. City Year is a volunteer programme so we have a large body of volunteers who are diverse in many ways, from their backgrounds to their experience and age. As placement students are at university in the middle of their degree they bring another perspective to the team and that adds another layer of experience and character within our mission statement.

What support do placement students receive?

It's very much a leadership programme so one of the aims is that everyone who comes here gets to develop as a leader. The development they undergo during the programme is really important to that and we try to make it so that everyone graduates from us feels as though they are ready to step into important roles in the their futures.

They receive training every Friday in leadership and personal development, all of which is designed to help them be successful at whatever they're going to do next. It also supports their corps member role and performance throughout the year. Obviously a placement student is returning to university after their year with us, so we tailor their experience to suit that wherever possible.

What do students get out of their placement?

Just about everyone who works for us is interested in working with people and children in some capacity, both now and in the future, so the role helps them develop their skills and experience in this area. They get a good sense of what it's like working in a diverse team and what it's like working in a professional role and environment for the first time.  During the year they get introduced to certain systems and protocols, such as their own performance and attendance, and learn to focus on their own development.

Do you think a placement makes students more employable?

I would hope so. It gives them one of the first experiences of being in a full-time professional role, where standards and requirements have to be upheld every day. A lot of the skills they pick up are very transferrable, whether that's communication skills through sending emails or making calls, to giving presentations and developing their confidence in public speaking, or putting together lesson plans and resources. They are all things that will be attractive to employers and serve them well when applying, but will also give them the skills they need to thrive when they actually go into another workplace.

Do you enjoy working with placement students?

Yes definitely. They bring something different to our team. It has been nice having a hand in the process, meeting the placement tutors and hearing about the different assignments the students have to do throughout the year. Hearing about what they are doing afterwards is always interesting too. We know that placement students are always going to be returning to university, so it's about how we can support them with that and help them advance their career pathways after they leave us.

Would you recommend offering a placement to other organisations?

I would, yes. They add a lot of variation and strength to our programme. We don't have many placement students in contrast to the number of volunteers we have in total, but overall we've had a very positive experience.

What was the process of recruiting a placement student through Middlesex University like?

I am not directly in recruitment so I didn't have much involvement in this, but in terms of the contact time I've had with the university and the placement tutor it has all been very positive. The placement tutor visited twice and that felt about right, it's definitely sensible to have that regular pattern of communication. The questions and things they asked all seemed very relevant and helpful and the discussions we had were all very professional. I was very impressed with that, she did everything that a placement tutor needs to do to support her student.

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