Archive | July 2012

Intern Nation


I have a dilemma… I have been asked to do an extra week of work experience at a publishing house, home to some of my favourite magazines. I have been interning here for two weeks now and so far, so great! I have been working closely with editors and deputy editors, taking knowledge, advice and experience on board and have made some invaluable contacts. It has been such amazing experience but the problem is… I just can’t afford it anymore!

I would love to be able to work the entire summer at top media institutes unpaid but it just isn’t realistic. And I feel like one of the lucky ones. I’ve stayed with my sister in London, kipped on friends sofas and am currently staying with my auntie and uncle in Colchester, fully relying on friends and family to put me up while I carry out compulsory work experience for my multi-media Journalism degree. The Uni even insist it must be unpaid yet provide no extra funding for you. So far, I feel like the sacrifice of my part time job has been worth it as it has been the best work placement I’ve been on.

Are good placements hard to find?

But not all placements are as lovely as this one. Speaking to some of my fellow peers, it seems it is not always that easy.

With over a million young people unemployed including a rising number of NEETs and graduates that finish University who can’t find work, internships seem like the next best alternative for thousands of well-qualified, competing young people. But many of them are unpaid, based in the not-so-cheap capital city and have you making tea for the entire summer.

The student dilemma

Tal Dekel, 20, a student from Bournemouth said this is a topic totally hot in her mind right now as she searches for work experience placements this summer. Tal’s problem is she is being offered the work but she isn’t able to afford to do long placements in London, far from home and with no place to stay or extra funding.

“I’m not lucky enough to be able to live off funding from my parents or live in London, so I’ve had to go for less time, which means less experience and even still I’m having to take out loans and borrow money to do it.”

Joshua Saunders, 21, from Birmingham, sees it as a student dilemma:

“It’s a difficult standoff, being a student. On one side you are ultimately grateful for the chance of an internship but on the other you’re free labour.

“Companies providing placements need to ensure they are able to benefit the individual as well as them being a useful pair of unpaid hands. Whether it be a work offer, another placement, contacts or just another reference on the CV. Internships need to work both ways.”

Ben Protheroe, 23, said he interned at a place for an astounding seven months where he only was paid travel expenses. “But I got a job out of it in the end- determination”, he said.

Media professional perspective

Hot Radio presenter Paul Stevens

Hot Radio presenter, Paul Stevens, has been a professional journalist for 20 years and says he is now interning for the second time 20 years later for his new career in teaching. He tells of how tough but essential interning can be.

“Without out looking internships up in the dictionary, to my mind it encapsulates a slightly longer term commitment than when I did mine years ago.

“I left University in 1986 and it was very similar to now, there was a recession going on and jobs were scarce and I did all sorts of things when I left and it took me the better part of three years to get a foothold in a job in journalism that I wanted and in the end that was down to work experience.

“I think internships work both ways because you get to find out whether you’re cut out for the job and the employer gets to find out if they think you’re up to the job.

“I do sympathise enormously with your generation, I can well understand students saying that it’s just not technically feasible and in some ways interning is quite discriminatory against those people who don’t have those resources to carry out what can be indefinite interning. If only the people with extra resources or the bank of mum and dad can actually afford to intern then it’s not an even playing field for everybody – that’s the problem. You can have tonnes of potential but if you’re not from a fairly well off background it can be very difficult.

“There are more opportunities as a graduate but as an undergraduate there are certainly things you can do in your summer vacations. The advice to students may well be – get you’re interning done whilst you’re studying.

“I’ve done work experience and whilst working as a professional journalist I have supervised work experience students at the paper and now at the radio station. So there is a commitment on behalf of the employer to committ staffing hours to this, you can’t just take people on and stick them in a corner. The idea is to get people to do real work where they learn something and they contribute something to the organisation.

If you had to give one piece of advice to young hopefuls trying to get into an industry what would it be?

“You have to show evidence that you are somebody worth investing in. That evidence might be an internship. Or that evidence might be a hobbie that you’ve done for a longer period of time. In this day and age when almost 50% of people in their late teens, early 20’s have got a degree you are up against every other person. In order to stand out from the next person you need evidence to say this is what I have that they haven’t and you just can never start too early with that sort of thing.

“I’ve just finished interning if you like for the second time in my life 30 years later. I interned for my journalism job and I effectively interned to get my teaching qualification. In the end it’s got to be done. I’ve been a student twice, been to University twice and I’ve interned a lot back in my 20’s and now in my 40’s. The job for life culture is over

‘Intern nation?’

So, should young people be paid for work experience or is it fair game for companies to use free labour as long as the eager hopefuls can associate themselves with their name in future? Perhaps, as we double dip into recession, graduates will end up interning for longer and with increasing job losses- free labour seems to be many companies answer. Is it only the wealthier priviledged young people that can benefit from internships? The class barrier is being knocked down at university entry level, but it is still there after graduation.

I can safely say that I have benefitted from all the unpaid work experience I have been lucky enough to get but realise perhaps that it is the exploited ones that are in fact the lucky ones in this game! And as for my dilemma, unfortunately the cash in my pocket dictates that I’ll unwillingly be going home on Friday afternoon…


Getting that interview look right!

So you’ve sent off your CV and cover letter and you’ve got an interview. What next? You have to dress to impress. That all important first impression is priceless says Hannah Smithson, as she reveals tips on how to get that ‘interview look’ perfected.



Avoid messy and outdated styles but rather stick to simple and clean. Get rid of the hair accessories and gigantic flowers but keep your hair out of your face, so your potential new employer can see your eyes and smile stand out.


Keep it natural. Stick to the make-up you’d wear on a regular, day to day basis. Perhaps a natural foundation over a daily moisturiser. Don’t go over the top with eyeliner, and just a small amount of mascara to help you appear wide-eyed and interested. Less is really more.

Dress to impress

Steve Sims, local restaurant manager explained what he likes to see in a potential employee and said: “It depends what job role you’re going for but even so I would expect anyone coming for a formal interview to make an effort. By that I mean being tidy, clean, presentable, clean shaven, and wearing a nice shirt.”

Steve mostly recruits for front of house roles so first impressions are important to him as most of his staff are facing customers every day. He said: “Fashion is not so much of an issue but if someone was stuck in the 60’s for example, I’d struggle employing them.

“Unfortunately, no matter how many qualifications you have, if you come to an interview looking shoddy then you won’t get the job. I would rather employ the chic looking person with less qualification- at least I can train them up but I’m not here to be a fashion guru.”

Pro fashion help

London fashion designer, Nicola Baum, works for Victoria Beckham and recently returned from London, Paris and New York fashion week and advises to always dress up rather than down. “If you’re unsure, go for more”, she says.

“For females she says, “don’t be scared to dress up and wear skirts and dresses – you can get away with it and men can’t so why not. Finally, don’t go dressed like you’re going to a funeral- some colour is ok and shows your personality. You want to be remembered but similarly not for looking like a fire cracker so keep it sensible.”

Spot some of the best dressed Bournemouth locals and see which style suits you:

Colourful – Outreach Officer

Matthew Usher is Bournemouth’s very own Aimhigher co-ordinator for Bournemouth University and Outreach Officer and has conducted many interviews in his time. He wears a simple coloured shirt to work most days and says comfy shoes are the most important thing to remember!

“It’s very important that you are presentable when you come to an interview and it doesn’t have to be the boring black trousers and white shirt- we actually quite like something that shows off your personality.”

“But make sure your shoes are comfortable – there is nothing more annoying than shoes that you have to wear all day that are rubbing at the heels and pinching at the toes.”

Fashionista- Trainee Restaurant Manager

Matteo Arena, orginally from the fashion capital of the world, Milan Italy is training to be a restaurant manager and certainly dresses to impress.

Matteo won the award for ‘Best Dressed’ at the last staff awards at Hot Rocks restaurant on the beach in Bournemouth and says that he spent over £100 on his shoes when he got promoted.

What’s hot for guys? Simple block coloured shirts, skinny ties (depending on how formal your going) and a great pair of comfy shiny shoes to boot.

What’s hot for girls? These girls are going for easy earth coloured dresses with simple suit jackets, opague tights and smart flats.

Stylish- Student Journalist

Gemma Mullin wears a simple green dress teamed with a skinny waste belt and black fitted jacket when out reporting in Bournemouth town centre.

She said: “I feel like I’m dressed up to go on the apprentice today.” But she looks quite the part and certainly very professional from where we’re standing.

Smart- Acting Editor

Charlotte Blake wears a Terrecotta dress and grey suit jacket as her first time as acting editor for her student TV station.

She said: “I feel a little bit like Rebecca Brookes today but I like dressing up as I think I get more work done when I’ve made an effort with how I look.”

Chance for Bournemouth unemployed at Daily Echo jobsfair

WITH UK unemployment figures rising to over 2.5 million, a welcome jobsfair is being held regularly in Bournemouth town centre as part of a sponsored set of fairs to get people back into employment.

An elderly women looks for news opportunites at the Daily Echo jobsfair

The latest Jobsfair has been organised by the Bournemouth Daily Echo and is sponsored by Health-on-Line insurance company, following three successful events in 2011.

It is being held at the Premier Inn on Westover road from 10:30am till 6:30pm and will host dozens of employers who will be looking for talented potentials to recruit into their businesses.

Angela Boyer, in charge of recruitment at the Daily Echo helped organise the fair and said there were 35 employers and training companies at the fair and they had over 900 people through the doors by 3pm. Included throughout the day were training workshops for help writing CVs and interview skills.

She said: “There are all sorts of people here; care homes, the airforce, Yellow Buses, foster carers from the Borough of Poole and private companies, professional recruitment agencies- a real mixture.”

She added: “Hopefully there are jobs for everyone who’s interested in working. It’s a real advantage for employers and job seekers to take the opportunity to see each other face to face.”

Marley Dawkins works in recruitment for Ideal Homes Group Ltd, a solar panel instillation company, and was at the fair most of the morning. He said: “It’s been a great atmosphere today and we’ve had people from all walks of life- people who’ve got really good jobs already with 20 years experience in marketing to those who are unemployed and quite desperate for work.”

Sophie is from Health-on-Line who sponsors the event and works in HR and recruitment for the company. She said: “It’s been going very well. This morning there has been a queue outside the door and it has quietened down this afternoon. We’ve been getting very well known in the area and are recruiting in our sales department.” She said as an employer she would be looking for someone with a bit of experience and personality and someone whose got a bit of depth about them.

HR consultant from Health-on-line sponsors for the event explains the job vacancies at the company

jobsfair 1

Steve Jackson, from Bournemouth is currently a self-employed builder looking for a new employment. He said: “I think the jobs fair is a good idea and a bit of a boost. You see things on the news and it’s a bit depressing but you come to this and it tends to put things into a little bit more perspective. It gives people a bit more confidence. The building trade is a bit inconsistent so I’m looking for new avenues- either to use the skills I have, or learn new skills.”

jobsfair 3

Andrew Hawkins, 29, from Bournemouth came to the fair before and was a little dissapointed. He said: “Everyone wants call centres workers but I’ve had a very bad experience with them and the airforce is a great job if you’re the right kind of person but I’m not.  I’m unemployed at the moment and given the last bout of unemployment I’m not looking particularly hopeful. I think the fair is a good thing but there are not a lot of jobs out there – extremely good jobs are quickly filled and when you’re left with the dregs of it, there is a reason why there is a high demand for those jobs.”

jobsfair 4

Andrew Hawkins explains he’s a pessimist when it comes to employment opportunities

Barbora Bartkova, 28 came to the jobs fair in hunt of a new job and said she liked to see the employers she may be working with in the future.

jobsfair 2

This is the first jobsfair of the year which has been run by the Daily Echo for six years now. Hopefully it will continue to help the people of Bournemouth get into that job they need and want.

Why Bournemouth is the best place to study EFL

Bright lights, busy people, red buses and black taxis. There’s one place you really should visit if you come to England to study English and that is the awesome capital, London, Londen or Londres depending on where you’re coming from.

But travel fares and jampacked undergrounds make it an expensive place to study. And with it’s coastal appeal, likened on it’s best days to Californian sands and fine summer weather, is Bournemouth the next top alternative? Hannah Smithson speaks to three Bournemouth EFL students to find out why Bournemouth is the best.

Best for study

Cristina Brugos Bernal, 24, is an English language student from Spain studying in Bournemouth and she says she came over to England to improve her future career prospects.

“I finished my law degree in Spain last year and in Spain at the moment it is almost impossible to find a job so I thought that it was a good idea to come to Bournemouth to learn English. I looked on the internet and saw that Bournemouth was apprantly the ‘happiest place’ in England.”

Cristina (at Bournemouth pier) came to England with her friend Alicia in February to learn English for her future studies.

“I booked my classes from Spain and I have my classes four times per week from one till five. I’m very happy because I’m alone in class with the teacher who is very lovely. I arrived two months ago and I’ve noticed that I’ve improved my English pretty fast.”

Some people argue that education is a recession proof industry because when the job prospects are dim it is often a good time to go and study.

Debbie Cambone, marketing assistant, from Anglo-continental language school in Bournemouth, said that she had actually seen an increase in language students, especially the Spanish market, since the recession.

Debbie Cambone and Helena Weir from Anglo-Continental school

“What people tend to do is invest in their education when they can’t get a job. We have a range of ages from a wide range of countries – people in their 20’s up to a gentleman in his 50’s.

“We had over 68 nationalities last year, from all over western Europe, eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

“We generally do English classes for adults but we also have young learners and vacation students as well. We also teach teachers of English. It means our teachers are fully up to date in ways to teach English and English regulations. The adult general English programme is the most popular.”

Best for jobs

Alvaro hopes to improve his English for future job prospects.


Alvaro Soto Alcantarilla, 26, also from the south of Spain, is trying to learn English here but works at the same time to pay for his tuition. “I was attending the free class at Anglo-Continental but I find it quite expensive studying abroad. I do think Bournemouth is much cheaper than places like London though and it is easier to find a job here.  My job helps pay for my rent and classes so it is doable if you really want to learn.”

Crisitina agrees and said: “I think nowadays English is the universal language for everything and in Spain in most of the jobs you need to speak English so I want to get my First Certificate and for travelling as well it’s very important because everyone talks English in hotels and everywhere.”

A spokesperson from one of approximately 30 language schools in Bournemouth said: “I think having another language will open up job opportunities. If you are a foreign student coming over here to learn English then it can help with getting a job as so much of the world speaks English.

Carlos De Mosteyrin, 25, has lived in Bournemouth for over two years now and said: “I came over to England with only very basic English to begin with and I could only get a job as a busser in a restaurant but as my English has improved I then got a job as a barman and now I can work on reception in the hotel where I work and answer phones and speak to customers front of house.”

Carlos found a job in a local restaurant as a barman and tries to surf and study in between – in that order!

Best for weather

Alvaro admits to sometimes missing the southern Spanish weather but said: “Bournemouth is a great place to study because in the summer the weather is nice, and I think better than most places in England and there is the beach which I like.”

Carlos also enjoys the weather and wanted to come to Bournemouth so he could surf, “I chose to come to Bournemouth because I found out there was an artificial surf reef here. I surf quite a lot and it’s great in the summer when the sun is out. I also like Bournemouth’s night life and the language student community. There are lots of Spanish people here which makes settling in a lot easier.”

The language school spokesperson adds: “I think the fact that we have the beach right here is a big factor for a lot of the countries that don’t have it and the fact that we’re so close to London. We’re not in London but we can do day excursions up there which is quite a bonus. We are also blessed with our micro-climate in Bournemouth and it’s seen as small enough to be friendly.

I think Bournemouth was voted as 4th best beach in Europe and 1st best beach in UK.” 

“I think Bournemouth is a good choice in terms of money and value. A lot of people think of learning English think of London but they don’t realise how expensive it is or what it involves so Bournemouth is economically a good choice compared to that. We have students from all levels of society, we have students who are sponsered, students who are funded by their parents and students who are self funded. For our students it’s so important for them to have a good level of English by the time they finish the course.”

Should more students study abroad?

Hannah Smithson asks why more UK students don’t pursue education and employment abroad, and what attracts international students to the UK.

Watch video 

Studying at home

The thought of travelling to far off lands to live and study can be a scary yet exciting prospect. Different cultures, languages, food and people are just some of the delights of travelling and reasons why brave fledglings choose to fly outside their comfort zone and take the plunge into a new life abroad. But for many Brits it seems there is no better place than home.

According to the latest research from the British Council fewer than 2% of UK students are studying abroad despite the opportunities it presents. Mark Moulding from the British Council said their research shows ‘businesses are saying that international skills are more important than exam results, but graduates are lacking in these skills. So many UK students don’t quite realise how studying abroad could have a real, positive impact on their career prospects. That’s something we’re working to change.’

Compared to countries like China which offers a comprehensive set of scholarships for domestic students to study overseas, the UK looks like it’s stumbling behind. ‘There’s a real risk that the UK ’s competitive edge could be damaged if our graduates don’t have enough experience of the wider world,’ Mark explained ‘We know that this is the kind of experience that employers want, and other countries including France and Germany are sending many more students abroad each year than we are.’

So why do so many UK students choose to stay in Britain for their education?

Beatrice Merrick, Director of Services and Research at UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs), explained that there has never been a real need for UK students to study abroad as domestically there are enough quality places at UK universities compared with other countries.

‘You get the UCAS stories every year where students don’t get places but it is a comparatively small number compared to many other countries, like South Africa at the moment, with a huge demand that just can’t be met domestically. And the UK has a good reputation for quality education with Russell Group universities.’

Sarah Nash, Director of Study Options, a company working with UK students wanting to study in Australia and New Zealand, said that often people are put off studying abroad due to the costs involved and language barriers.

‘Certainly UK students are very keen to go to English speaking countries which I can understand because to study in a foreign language, however fluent you are at tertiary level, is no mean feat.

‘I think that money is a very key consideration. Even though fees here have risen to £9,000 a year at some universities, you can still access a student loan. If you go abroad, you cannot use your student loan. If you’re an 18 year old, that is quite a sum of money to find. You have to be from a family background where your parents can afford to pay for that cost of education upfront which will automatically rule out a lot of people.

‘Interestingly now, I think the rise in tuition fees has made people stop and think – actually if I’m going to spend this kind of money, what do I get for that investment?’

With companies such as Study Options raising awareness, it has become much easier to find out about studying abroad but, according to Beatrice, ‘we have to acknowledge that the number of UK students who leave school with a good enough knowledge of another language to be able to study in that language is probably quite small compared to students in many parts of the world who study English from a young age and have much much greater fluency.’

Studying away

‘I always knew I was going to do it,’ said Eleanor Linton, a UK student who studied at the University of Hong Kong last year as part of her sandwich Fashion Retail degree.

‘I picked my course because I knew I had the opportunity to go to Hong Kong. There was just one place but few people applied and I was the lucky one who got it. Most of the people I spoke to seemed to think that they couldn’t afford to do it and that it would look better on their CV if they did work placements rather than going abroad but then speaking to them afterwards, they said they wish they’d done study abroad.’

Eleanor studied Mandarin but said most people didn’t study a language there.

‘I think so many English people are totally intimidated by learning a new language and they think there is a massive preconception that they are going to have be fluent in somewhere like Hong Kong. When I got back, a lot of people thought I had my lectures in Chinese. I definitely didn’t. I had them all in English.

‘It’s just made me realise that there isn’t just a set thing that you have to go to university and get a graduate job and live in London – there is just so much more.’

Another perspective on being an international student comes from Cristina, an English language student from Spain studying in Bournemouth and she says she came over to England to improve her future career prospects.

‘I know now that if I want a good job in the future then I must know English. Many jobs in Spain require a certain level and I thought what better time to do it whilst Spain is going through crisis. There are no jobs there at the moment, so I may as well stay here and invest in my future while I can.’

People sometimes argue that education is a recession proof industry because when the job prospects are dim it is often a good time to go and study.

Debbie Cambone, Marketing Assistant at Anglo-Continental language school in Bournemouth, said that she had actually seen an increase in language students, especially the Spanish market, since the recession.

‘What people tend to do is invest in their education when they can’t get a job. We have a range of ages from a wide range of countries – people in their 20s up to a gentleman in his 50s. We had over 68 nationalities last year, from all over western Europe, eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.’

Helena Weir, Digital Marketing Administrator, thinks studying abroad should work a bit more two way but said that numbers of UK students studying abroad probably wouldn’t increase unless the government backed it more.

‘I think that the language school industry in England is very large by now and something that should be recognised and supported more because it brings a lot of investment into the country which is needed in a recession. I don’t think English people do look outside their borders enough and I think when it comes to looking for jobs, if a foreign workforce has more skills or is more intelligent then they will be the ones to get the jobs over us.’

Do free schools mean a freer education?

Academies are paid millions and are not controlled by LEAs so where does all the money go and are results reflecting investment? Hannah Smithson investigates


A free education sounds idyllic, financially and ideologically and something which every child should be entitled to but since the introduction of free schools last year and with the number of academies on the increase around the country, concerns have been raised into the quality of education in these new schools, promising to better the lives of generations to come.

What makes academies and free schools different, is primarily the way they are run and funded. Academies are funded by central government and no longer controlled by Local Education Authorities (LEAs) but by staff, governors and parents.

Similarly, free schools were set up last year by Educational Secretary Michael Gove, to provide new schools in often under privaledged areas, educational opportuinities pioneered by parents, staff and local governors. Both are really in their infancy but it is time to reflect on whether they are working or not?

League tables

St. Aldhelm’s Academy in Poole was announced as the worst scoring school in the country this year as only 3% of pupils who left last summer achieved 5 A to C GCSE grades.

On arrival to the school, I was asked to sit in the foyer and wait to speak to principal Cheryl Heron. I had made an appointment and everything seemed to run to schedule in this school.

At exactly 12 noon I was met by Cheryls’ Personal Assistant Tracy, who I’d been emailing to arrange an interview and escorted through many key coded doors and pristine corridors to Cheryls office.

As I waited I couldn’t help feeling as though I was waiting to meet the Prime Minister rather than the head of a struggling academy. I sensed that perhaps this wasn’t the only media attention they’d had since the results came out and that they quite rightfully wanted to be professional yet wary about my presence and intentions as a journalist.

I assessed my surroundings and I would clearly not be alone interviewing Cheryl, as her trusty PA stood by. I was being monitored.

Finally, this very tall, well groomed figure emerged from her office and I stood up to shake her hand as she introduced herself as the Principal. If I wasn’t intimidated already I certainly was now, as she explained she was a keen basketball player and I could see why from her towering shadow.

She sat down her body language open yet protective and began to explain to me the academies situation.

“What people have to understand is we only opened in September 2010 so our first year 11 results were with a group of year 11s we only had for eight months and although we did everything within our power we only achieved three percent five A to C’s in English and Maths.”

“We have pressure on us to do better which we will do – that’s why we’ve become a sponsored Academy but everything takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight.”

Cheryls point was to not criticise the academy for the results that were achieved last year under this new status as the school was still working under an old system, with the same curriculum and old classrooms, waiting for an £11 million renovation to take place in August.

Money, money money

So in spite of the different way academies are funded, is it a case of pouring money into academies and free schools to help them recover or upgrade their status to academies if they are doing well. Does this create unfair competition between state schools and new academies as other colleges may not have the same budget to compete with the education an academy can offer children?

Time and co-operation

Academies and free schools are still subject to Ofsted inspections and so can still be held to account.

Attendance and standards of behaviour have both improved remarkably since St. Aldhelm’s became an academy, according to a recent Ofsted report and David Ball, Vice Chair of Governors at St. Aldhelm’s and head of academic development at Bournemouth University, said: “The principal and staff at St. Aldhelm’s are dedicated and fully committed to improving the educational attainment at all levels of young people in the community.

Ball believes there are strategies in place to improve achievement and has noticed a difference in the attitudes of the young people since the school became an academy. He said: “They take pride in the academy and recognise the value of education.”

The borough of Poole said it had no involvement in the running of the school since it became an academy, which controls it’s own budget and curriculum, and that the responsibility lay with the school’s private sponsors.

Ball added: “As a co-sponsor, the university fully supports, and has a complete confidence in the principal and her staff. The proof will be seen in future years as new cohorts move through the academy, benefit from its pupil centered educational ethos and fulfil their potential.”

Critics of academies question their ethos and ‘innovative’ teaching methods, asking whether they are working or eroding traditional teaching disciplines and replacing core subjects with vocational qualifications. Principal Heron explained that there will be a large focus on vocational studies at St. Aldhelm’s and her freedom with the curriculum allows this.

“I have to do English and Maths, but then I can do whatever I want and there is more emphasis placed on vocational qualifications and apprenticeships nowadays.”

The Wolf report seems to put a spanner in the works however as professor Wolf recommended last year that only some vocational qualifications should count towards GCSE league tables whilst criticising that many vocational qualifications were not leading to higher education or a job for graduating pupils. How will St. Aldhelm’s fair in future years in the league tables?

Success stories

Some better established academies are however coming out on top. The Bishop of Winchester Academy on Mallard Road, was five years ago a school with special measures and is now facing being over subscribed for the coming September cohort 2012-13.

Hayleigh Edwards, Key stage 4 progress leader at the academy believes academies can be beneficial. She said: “Extra funding has been an enormous help, particularly for KS4 where I am able to reward trips and put incentives in place. Without the additional budget, I would struggle to do this.”

Other plans to improve Bournemouth include a £10million  investment to extend and refurbish The Bourne Academy.

Barry Goldbart, Cabinet member for Education and Childrens services, said: “Bournemouth has been very fortunate in receiving such a large investment for two of our academies.

“Academies are a good thing and a trend that I think will continue.”

He added: “The only loss is of the high quality officers within the council who deal with education and with losing them we lose the experience to make those tough decisions.”

The coalition government wants schools considered ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted to convert to academies. It also wants those successful schools to mentor others in the areas that are more disadvantaged.

Free school plans

Plans to open a free school in Bournemouth are going ahead for September 2012. The new school, called Parkfield school will be offering a alternative education to the children of Bouremouth and Poole.

It will be offering an international curriculum and combining the Montessori method into the classroom which follows a ‘freedom within limits’ ethos.

The new headteacher could not be contacted for comment.

The importance of basic literacy

As unemployment figures show that 1.15 million young people are out of work, Hannah Smithson asks if children are gaining the basic skills to read and write from an early age?

Image courtesy of Cafemama Flickr


The new Chief Inspector of Schools has announced that literacy rates in England have stalled.

The importance of literacy at primary school level is fundamental to the progress of learning to secondary school level and beyond. Many failing schools are now being converted to academies to try and help those schools with special measures.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said that too many primary school students are leaving school without being able to read properly. He called for targets aimed at 11-year olds to be raised, and said that reading standards have not improved since 2005 and should be higher.

The last Programme for International Student Assessment survey, in 2009, showed the UK had slipped eight places from 17th to 25th place in a global assessment of reading standards.

Sir Michael told BBC Two’s Newsnight that one in five children were not reaching the standard expected at the end of primary school.

Failing schools

This comes on the heels of news that a secondary school in Poole, St. Aldhelm’s Academy, was announced as the worst performing school in the country when GCSE league tables were revealed this year.

Only a shocking 3% of students who left last summer achieved the target five A*-C GCSE grades, which is a decrease of 11 places in 12 months.

The newly accredited academy school has only had its status for eight months after being taken over by sponsors, the Diocese of Salisbury and Bournemouth University in 2010.

Principal of St. Aldhelm’s, Cheryl Heron said: ‘What people have to understand is we only opened in September 2010 so our first year 11 results were with a group of year 11s we only had for eight months and although we did everything within our power we only achieved 3% five A to Cs in English and maths.’

‘We have pressure on us to do better which we will do – that’s why we’ve become a sponsored academy but everything takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight.’

What is an academy?

Michael Gove, Education Secretary, introduced academy schools as independent state-funded schools last year.

Academies are funded by central government, however they are not controlled by Local Education Authorities (LEAs) but instead by staff, governors and parents. This means they do not have to follow a strict curriculum and are in charge of their own budget.

There are more than 370 academies in England, all secondary school level.

Academies were established under the Labour government, in the hope of improving standards in the worst performing schools.

In contrast, the coalition wants to enable schools considered ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted to convert to academies and for successful schools to mentor those in more disadvantaged areas. The coalition wants all schools to have the chance to become academies, including primary and special schools, as part of an ‘education revolution’, after passing the Academies Bill in parliament.

Why do schools become academies?

Standards of behaviour and attendance have improved remarkably since St. Aldhelm’s became an academy and the recent Ofsted report recognises these achievements.

David Ball, is the Vice Chair of Governors of St. Aldhelm’s School and the head of Academic Development services at Bournemouth University. He said, ‘The Principal and staff of St Aldhelm’s are dedicated and fully committed to improving the educational attainment, at all levels, of the young people (and others) of the community.’

Council view

Councillor Barry Goldbart, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services for Bournemouth, said, ‘I am ashamed of the situation both nationally and locally. That so many of our primary schools are failing our children is just not acceptable to me.’

He said that the lack of literacy rates in primary schools clearly affects our secondary schools and the GCSE results that we see at places such as St. Aldhelm’s.

Cllr Goldbart said Bournemouth was in the bottom 12% in the whole of the country for primary school literacy rates, remarking that, ‘I think it is dreadful and a lot more needs to be done. It comes down to the teaching at the end of the day.’

‘Academies are a good thing and a trend that I think will continue’, he claims. ‘The only loss is of the high quality officers within the council who deal with education and with losing them we lose the experience to make those tough decisions.’

He points out that it is only some of the schools and as governor for Bournemouth School for Girls and Oakmead School of Technology, he has seen some of the best results in turning failing students into very skilled pupils.

He said the challenge was making sure children enter secondary education with a good level of literacy, something he believes isn’t happening at the moment.