G H Smith

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The Thirsk Weekly News is a family-owned paper for Thirsk and the surrounding area


23rd March, 2024.

When I was leaving school, I remember a very cursory conversation with the “Career's Master”, notable for brevity and, to be honest, total uselessness.

I went to a local authority grammar school; the masters wore gowns, what we were taught and primed to aim for was focused on university entrance.

There was an honours board in the main hall, which listed pupils who had gained university places. (I eventually graduated many years later as a mature student, and if the school still existed, wonder whether I could be bothered to get my name added to the list!).

Contrast that with my recent experience at Thirsk School, where an enrolment fair aimed solely at getting students to move on to apprenticeships, the under rated alternative route to a career was being promoted.

In the past, when there were only two English universities, and they were the playgrounds of the wealthy elite, an apprenticeship was an established means of getting into the world of work.

In most trades, entry was as jealously guarded as getting into Oxford or Cambridge, family connections being the key, and the system was as much focused on preserving the elite status of the trade.

There were enough members of the “prentice boys” to occasionally prove a threat to the civil order, if they chose to run riot.

No such threat evident at Thirsk School, where a wide range of opportunities was on offer, from long term care, health and beauty, professions like law and accountancy (where there is a long tradition of “articles”, combining work with study, adding the blend of hands on experience with eventual qualifications) to various varieties of metal bashing – the Thirsk area has plenty of that on offer, with national companies making iconic civil engineering projects, building yellow gritters and snowploughs, keeping the railways running and keeping lorries on the road.

The most popular stand offered the chance of computer simulated welding, all of the fun without any of the risk.

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