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Every child in England and Wales is required to undertake work experience at some point in Year 10. The Department for Education (DfE) in London defines work experience as “a placement on employer’s premises in which a student carries out a particular task or duty, or range of tasks or duties, more or less as would an employee, but with an emphasis on the learning aspects of the experience.”

The vast majority of students do their one- or two-week work experience placements locally: in local companies, hospitals, schools and businesses. In doing so, they gain important insights into the world of work, ones that provide a taster of life after school.

Yet, in an increasingly globalized world, college and university recruiters as well as future employers are looking for individuals with considerably more diverse international and language experience. It is in this particular context that the Academy of English has been offering work experience placements to students from its partner school, the High Arcal School in Sedgley in the West Midlands, since 2013. The project is known as Oldenburg Work Experience (Programme: OL WE).

Living up to High Arcal’s aspiration of creating confident and aspirational global citizens, Programme: OL WE operated by the Academy of English aims:

  • to give the student an opportunity to do their work experience in a foreign country;
  • to provide work experience placements in Germany that are meaningful and tailored to career aspirations of the individual student;
  • to give the student a cutting edge over his/her peers with recruiters, regardless of whether they are tertiary college, university or employment recruiters;
  • to immerse the students in German language and culture in Oldenburg, northwestern Germany;
  • to foster cross-cultural understanding and awareness, increasing the participant’s tolerance and respect for difference between and within cultures; and
  • to strengthen institutional ties between The High Arcal School and The Academy of English.


Initiated by Miss Billing and Miss Goodyear in the English Department, students were asked to submit applications to the Academy of English for the position of English Language Teaching Assistant. The Academy of English received twenty high quality applications, of which just six were selected for the positions of English Language Assistants. The six lucky candidates would go on to work in a range of institutions across Oldenburg: Hayden Cresswell (Academy of English), Abi Jones (Graf Anton Günter Schule), Mia Rogers and Bethany Rowley (IGS Kreyenbrück) and Georgia Rowley (VHS Oldenburg). You can read Georgia’s account of the work experience here.

In addition to the work experience placements, the students were assigned host stay families. Not only did these families give the students a taster of German home life; but they got to see how German families partied the night away on winning the Football World Cup in 2014. Alongside a special Meet-Up-Group, a visit to the local meat factory and a bicycle tour around Oldenburg, the students were given a grand farewell at the Kreyenbrücker Mühle with a certificate and also references from their employers.

You can take a look back at 2014 by watching this film made by the staff and students.


In July 2015, Miss Billing and Mrs Westwood successfully led Programme OL WE  from the High Arcal School to Oldenburg. Five students, Chloe Walker, Grace Malpass, Fallon Kemp, Chloe Baugh and Rebecca Bullas, were hosted by five families across Oldenburg who gave them insights into German home life, including visiting a ball and doing a range of sporting activities with their respective families.

Catering for their future career aspirations, each of the five students worked in a different German work setting, gaining valuable international work experience: Chloe Walker worked as an Assistant to the Director of Studies at the Academy of English, even participating in an educational trade fair and delivering English classes to German students. Grace Malpass worked in multiple medical settings, even observing orthopedic operations at her placement at the Klinikum Oldenburg. Interested in computing and programming, Fallon Kemp worked at a local software company ise, helping to programme home automation software, whilst Chloe Baugh worked in a nearby media agency called Topdogs, making films and doing questionnaires. Wanting to pursue a career and establish her own hotel business after school, Rebecca Bullas worked in the local hotel chain B&B in a variety of capacities from catering to housekeeping.

In 2015, the students were treated to a special surprise. Thanks to its contact at the Motorfluggruppe Wilhelmshaven, the Academy of English hired three light aircraft and flew the students to the North Frisian island of Wangerooge with some of the students got a feel for the controls of the aircraft. On the island, students were treated to a so-called “Betriebsausflug”, a motivational-style business trip, and took part in activities on the North Sea coast and enjoyed a fish dinner, a specialty on the island.


Building on from the successes of Programme OL WE from the previous two years, Miss Leigh and Mrs Westwood accompanied four students from the High Arcal School to Oldenburg, Germany in the Year 10 work experience week. From 17-22 July 2016, four students came to Oldenburg and did their one-week work experience placements in a variety of companies around the city: Emily-Jane Riley gained insights into the world of physiotherapy at Physio Paultyn, even visiting local OAP homes and hospitals to see how the elderly are catered for in Oldenburg. Interested in the world of animals and biology, Phoebe Curran spent a highly successful week at Kleintierarztpraxis Hatten, where she observed and assisted with operations on small animals. Her sister, Willow Curran, was employed at a local legal practice and rose to the challenge of working in a legal environment. Lauren Beele worked closely with the Director of Studies at the Academy of English.

Given its popularity and success from 2015, Programme OL WE also treated its students to a “Betriebsausflug”, a business trip, to the former British colony of Helgoland in the North Sea. Flying with three light aircraft for twenty minutes, they got to see the island with its herd of seals on the sea line. Some of the party even took to the cold North Sea for a swim.

For photos of the trip, please click here.

High Arcal and German Students and Teachers
Meet Up Guests with High Arcal


NWZ 2015: Schüler steigen auf

To get a sense of the trip, please watch this film made by the students.

OL Work Experience