Hard-working Excelsior Academy student Patrick Larsen is leaving the classroom for the shopfloor – his reward after impressing bosses at Marks and Spencer so much on a work placement that they offered him a job.
The 18-year-old is one of 14 students from the academy’s sixth form Excelsior College working with some of the biggest retail names on the UK high street.
Excelsior enjoys a Retail Gold work placement partnership with intu, the real estate company which owns some of the UK’s best known shopping centres, including the Metrocentre and Eldon Square which attract more than 400 million customer visits every year.
Patrick was based at Marks and Spencer’s homeware department in its Eldon Square store for six months, undergoing an interview and induction training while studying a BTEC Level 3 Retail Knowledge course at Excelsior College.
Peter Stead, Excelsior business studies teacher, said: “Patrick has really thrived on his work placement – he’s a people person and I think his achievement is exceptional.
“He has so much ability and the encouragement he’s had in such a nurturing environment which Marks and Spencer give our students has been so rewarding for him.
“His attendance has been exemplary on his work placement and his attitude has made him stand out.”
Patrick, who will begin his working life as a sales assistant working weekend hours at Marks and Spencer, said: “I’m so happy about getting a job here – it was really nice for me to get the offer out of the blue.
“Before my work placement I’d never thought about how much goes on behind the scenes. Now I want to be a manager; I’d like to give people like me the same opportunities I’ve had.”
David Gillin, Marks and Spencer customer assistant recruitment, said: “Patrick impressed us from day one. He rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in with any task that was given to him.
“At the end of his placement we had no hesitation in giving him a job; we are pleased that he is now part of our workforce.”
The Excelsior work placements are mapped around BTEC Level 2 and 3 Retail Knowledge qualifications where the students learn about customer service, the retail selling process, health and safety, teamwork, retail security and retail consumer law.
Students worked for one day a week over a six-month period on their placements at partner firms John Lewis, Debenhams, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer and with intu Customer Service.
All 14 Excelsior College students have received certificates in Retail Gold to acknowledge the completion of their work placements.
“All the students have achieved their Retail Gold placement and their BTEC qualifications, they have got something fantastic to put on their CV which makes them stand out at interview,” said Peter.
“There are relatively few students at their age who can say they have done an extended work placement and have such a wealth of experience.
“This course is so good at preparing them for the world of work when they leave school. It takes a lot of dedication, they have had to go every Wednesday while juggling a lot of subjects and exams as well.”
From September, all Excelsior College students studying a vocational subject will have the opportunity to take part in meaningful and purposeful work experience linked to the course they are studying.
It is part of Excelsior’s ambition to make students ‘work ready and employable’ when they finish their studies. Part of this initiative is to build one day per week work placement into their timetable.