Benenden is one of the only schools in the UK to offer a comprehensive Professional Skills Programme - a course dedicated to teaching students the general skills they need to thrive in the workplace.
The Programme was launched by Dr Margaret Mountford, one of Lord Sugar’s original advisers on The Apprentice, and came partly in response to comments from business leaders about the lack of such skills in graduates in the UK.
‘Equipped for the Modern Workplace’
The skills taught include tackling different types of CV and interview, applying for jobs, creating a formal business plan, reading and creating accounts, coding, delivering a pitch, reading complex financial information, setting up and managing household bills, negotiating a tenancy agreement, and a range of life skills such as cookery, DIY and car maintenance.
The Sixth Formers all plan, launch and run a business as part of the course, which has been developed in collaboration with senior figures in business and industry, many of whom lead sessions on the course and act as mentors for the students' business projects.
Lesley Tyler, our Executive Director - Curriculum and Professional Excellence, who has developed the Professional Skills Programme, said: “There is no point in a young person leaving school with straight A grades if they lack the skills to function effectively in the workplace. We see it as our duty to ensure students leaving Benenden are equipped for the modern workplace, both in applying for jobs and flourishing when they have got one.
“We have put an enormous amount of work into our Professional Skills Programme to ensure it is relevant, challenging and authoritative, and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped us create it.”
When large employers say there is a problem with the skill set of young people then I believe it is our job as school leaders to listen and to respond.
The employment landscape is becoming increasingly competitive and young people need more than excellent academic qualifications to both secure a good job and then to thrive. Our programme is designed to support the latter.
Samantha Price, Headmistress
The Professional Skills Programme is made up of six compulsory modules:
- Employability: this includes preparing a CV, taking part in mock interviews, and applying for a selection of jobs on paper, on the internet and over the phone and Skype
- Financial Literacy: this includes how to open and manage a bank account, how a mortgage operates, how to budget on a student loan and how to write a business plan and read a set of accounts
- Presentation and Communication: this includes taking minutes from a meeting or chairing a meeting, designing an advert, writing a press release and delivering a persuasive speech and a pitch.
- Critical and Creative Thinking: this includes undertaking psychometric testing, planning a project, learning how to use Harvard referencing, create a bibliography and use footnotes, and conducting a significant piece of research.
- New Technologies and Media: this includes a touch typing course, learning to code, designing a website and creating an app.
- Work experience – each student undertakes an internship in their holidays, and also undertakes at least 3 days of “paid by the hour” work
There are also a number of Optional Modules, including:
- Entrepreneurship, Fundraising, PR and Events Management
- The Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award
- Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Qualification
- Cookery and Hospitality including training in bar work
- Lifesaving, Lifeguarding and Exercise Trainer Qualifications
- Finance and Investments