Leanne is one of our ex-students who left Woodrush Sixth Form in 2014 after completing four A levels in English Language and Literature, French, Mathematics and History as well the Extended Project Qualification. On leaving Woodrush Leanne went to study Law at the University of Leicester. She graduated in 2017 and decided to progress straight into a graduate role at Teach First, in their Leadership Development Programme. This places applicants straight in the classroom as an unqualified teacher. You are paid to study over the two years of the placement and it proved to be very convenient for Leanne, to be earning straight away and not having to take out a postgraduate loan. As Leanne says “I now teach English at a secondary school in Dudley and love the interaction with students.” Always with an eye for varied opportunities though, Leanne continues to consider other professions and might look outside of Education for her next challenge. She has promised to let us know how her journey continues to develop.
After taking A levels in English, Maths, History and Psychology at Woodrush Sixth Form in 2013, Jack moved to study Accounting & Financial Management at Loughborough University. “Loughborough was a fantastic experience for me and I would recommend it to anybody. Not only did I get valuable experience and support to help me gain future employment, I also had 4 of the best years of my life.”
As part of the degree, Jack was required to spend his third year working full time in industry. This was to enable him to get a practical understanding of how the world of business works and be able to bring his experiences back to his final year of studies. Jack was able to get a prestigious internship at Virgin Media as an Analyst where his role was primarily supporting projects designed to improve the customer journey.
“Overall, the sandwich year was a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in the real world, learn more about what I would want to do as a future career (or not, as I came to realise I did not want to be an accountant), and have the experience to put me ahead in the job market once I graduated.”
After completing his degree, Jack joined the Analytics Centre of Excellence at JLR as part of their graduate scheme in 2017. This was a two year programme, where after an initial 6 weeks of intensive training to develop analytical, computer programming and business consulting skills, Jack worked on a variety of projects to support transformation across the business. This included supporting supplier negotiations to ensure JLR could get the parts for their vehicles for the best possible price and working with engineering to help design the best cars possible for the future. His role is now as a Senior Analytics Developer, where Jack leads projects to assist senior management up to the C-Suite in decision making for the future of the business.
In the Sixth Form between 2017 and 2019 Keeley studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A-level and Biology at AS level. As she says, “at first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so went to university open days and career fayres. I decided I wanted to be an engineer but wasn’t sure how to go about becoming one. There weren’t many engineering apprenticeships, so I applied to all the ones I could find. Going through the process, I didn’t get a response from all of them but once I’d found Arup I knew that’s who I wanted to work for. I went for an interview, but didn’t get offered the exact role I had applied for as a Rail Civil Engineer. However, I was offered the opportunity to still work for Arup, in their rail signalling division. Although not knowing anything about railway signalling I have ended up really enjoying my job.
I am currently a signalling design engineer apprentice working on rail projects and based at the Arup Campus on the Blythe Valley Park, Solihull, Arup’s second largest office base in Europe and host to more than 800 employees of over 50 nationalities. As part of my apprenticeship, I do a mixture of work on projects and two week blocks at the National College of Advanced Transport and Infrastructure in Birmingham to work towards my level 4 qualification. I am very lucky to get opportunities to visit the sites of old railways as well as ones being built. I am supported by a mentor who can answer any questions and who checks the work I do along with my buddy who is a previous apprentice and my line manager. I am constantly learning new things by working on projects as a part of a team and being given my own responsibilities.”
Initially when I left the Sixth Form having studied Biology, Mathematics and Physics I joined Ernst & Young in Birmingham. I was a Degree Apprentice studying for a BSc in Digital Communications and Solutions. Whilst with Ernst Young I was working within Audit and Data Analytics, providing a crucial role in the financial analysis of major companies. I would work for 80% of my employment and study for the other 20%. This was arranged as a day off each week to independently study and attend weekly virtual lectures. I would also be granted 2/3 days off every 2months to go to London where we had in-house lectures. The company would fund travel, accommodation and food. Within Ernst Young travel is essential and although I loved staying in London in luxurious hotels the novelty of travel soon worn off and I felt like I wasn’t feeding my passion of science doing a largely desk-based job.
In August 2019, I changed my role. I secured a different Degree Apprenticeship within the NHS and am working towards gaining a degree in Medical Physics (BSc) specialising in Nuclear Medicine. My employment is for 3 years and afterwards I will have the option to continue working with the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust. My work within Nuclear Medicine involves Clinical Skills, Medicinal Theory and Physics Theory, allowing me to use physiological imaging for patients utilising radioactive material as well as training me to provide radioactive therapies. I am constantly active using my theoretical knowledge in biological, chemical and physical sciences as well as developing my clinical skills. I am over a year into my Degree Apprenticeship and absolutely love it. After my degree I intend to continue my studies, with a focus on paediatrics.
Jem completed A levels with us in Maths, PE and Product Design in 2016. He has recently qualified from a 4 year Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering and now works as a Field Service Engineer with Ishida Europe based in Woodgate Valley, Birmingham. Ishida is a global Japanese company that design, build, install and maintain machines for the food packaging industry. “Ishida has been an exciting company to work for, I have had the opportunity to gain qualifications and develop skills, knowledge and experience which has prepared me for my future career. I enjoy being part of a business which is consistently growing and offering new opportunities.”
In Jem’s opinion the blend of vocational and academic study in his apprenticeship and the ‘earn while you learn’ approach has been a huge asset. With a starting salary circa £23,000 he also has the added bonus of a company car which he can use for his own domestic and leisure use. Jem believes there is a good team spirit, a career structure within the industry and a salary increment scheme based on experience, specific expertise and promotion. There are opportunities to work in Europe and Japan.
Jem would highly recommend this route to young people who are practically minded and are prepared to work hard. He says you are ‘catapulted’ into the adult world but this was definitely the right move for him. “The social aspect is different from university life but as group of apprentices we have enjoyed organising our own regular social events which has been an important aspect. We have all been very supportive of each other and have found the apprentices in other years very approachable and good colleagues.”