Seventeen 16-17 year olds at the school are currently completing a Carer Development Programme (CDP) which combines classroom theory learning with practical experience of social care in the community.
Care UK, whose services in Musselburgh promote independence by making daily living easier, devised the CDP initiative with the aim of giving students experience of working in the care sector.
Its programme of education, structured placements and Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) modules help students to learn new skills and explore some of the career opportunities available to them once they have left school.
A key element of the CDP is the opportunity for students to participate in regular placements with Care UK. By shadowing care workers for a part of their shifts, each student gets to meet people who they could be supporting in the future. This is invaluable in helping them to develop the interpersonal skills which are so important for qualified, competent and confident carers to possess.
Julie Armstrong, a HR Manager at Care UK, believes the CDP is an excellent opportunity for students interested in social care. She said: “This programme helps students to develop their skills and gain an understanding of what working in the care sector is like. Every student has taken part in our full induction course and is being taught the essential skills required to support people in their own homes.
“The combination of theory learning at school and practical work placements with Care UK give each student a detailed insight into the challenges and rewards of being a care worker.
“Our first group of students began their CDP in August and will finish the programme in April 2013. The course is organised so that between August and December they will experience a mixture of theory learning and practical work experience. In the New Year, the focus shifts to studying for an SVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care.
“We believe all students who pass the CDP have the potential to become the team leaders and care managers of the future. They will have developed the confidence, knowledge and skills employers look for when recruiting and we will offer interviews to everybody who would like to work at Care UK.”
Gail Taylor, Principal Guidance Tutor at Musselburgh Grammar School, is responsible for supporting and guiding the students with their studies. She is joined one day a week by Gail McGeary – a Care UK training manager who delivers workshops that develop the students’ practical skills.
She said: “Our students are full of enthusiasm and they cannot wait to get into the practice room to work on improving their care skills. The CDP has had a positive impact across all of their studies and a major benefit of its structure is the possibility of employment after completion of the course. This has definitely been a major motivational factor for them.
“Later this month our students will be completing their first placement with Care UK. They are all looking forward to meeting new people in the community and understanding more about the role carers play in their lives.”
Stewart MacKinnon, Depute Headteacher at Musselburgh Grammar School, added: “This is a fantastic example of how a partnership between a school and an employer can help young people make the step from education to work. To help with their study we have created a dedicated classroom for teaching and an interactive area for putting what they have learned about social care into practice.
“With the help of East Lothian Council it has been fitted out with the latest equipment which carers use every day. This provides the perfect environment for our students to practice and gain confidence using hoists, specialist beds, standing aids and wheelchairs.
“Our students have been working extremely hard and everybody is very proud of their progress. I am amazed at their dedication and enthusiasm and believe everybody participating in the CDP has the ability to forge a successful career in social care.”