I'm having a student on work placement with me in July, and got a visit today about the placement. I was expecting it to be someone from the school, as it's the first time anyone from there has done a placement with me, intrigued about what working with a vicar would be like.
It was the Health and Safety Man. Seatbelts in cars, mopping up spillages, risk assesments (I forgot to tell him about the risk of being buried alive by mistake at the cemetary - drat) etc. I vaguely remember the days when this was called Common Sense and didn't require the school to contract someone in to drive round each placement. I'm sure it's all about insurance and butt-covering, but it just leaves me feeling slightly depressed. That's the sum total of the school's interaction with me prior to the placement, apart from a form I filled in.
My own memory of work experience includes a day in Sheffield Polytechnic (later rebranded Sheffield Hallam University) print shop working on a binding machine. By lunchtime I was slightly high on glue, with a splitting headache, and most of Friday was spent in the working mens club surrounded by fag-smoking van drivers, drinking pints of McEwans and wondering what their bosses would do if they knew how little work these blokes actually did. Oh yes, and the pornographic calendars in my 'supervisor's little office. And the crippling boredom of most of it. 'Prepare students for the world of work', you bet.
It reminds me of the old story about a Pope who, when asked how many people worked at the Vatican, replied 'about half of them.'
Update: if you're Health and Safety needs sharpening up, have a look at this. Very funny. Ht Matt Wardman.