Great Gatsby! Careers Education
This week I was delighted to be given an opportunity to talk to Enterprise Advisors from across Hertfordshire about Careers Education. The network of Enterprise Advisors have been established by the Careers and Enterprise Company to provide schools with links to business to help develop the careers advice and guidance on offer to students. At Thomas Alleyne’s we have been extremely fortunate to be linked with Adecco, an international recruitment agency with offices in Stevenage. Stuart Smith and his colleagues have donated a fantastic amount of time and energy to our school, including establishing the Adecco Top Talent programme, a six week series of workshops covering CV writing, job research, applications and interviews. Students encounter the strictness of deadlines and the importance of confidence and resilience in the job market – they are scored at each stage and the programme culminates in a presentation assembly where successful candidates are presented with certificates and the overall winner is announced. The prize offered by Adecco is a fantastic week long work experience programme which includes a visit to head office in London, work at two Stevenage branches, an air-side tour of Luton Airport and a presentation to staff at the end of the week. Students in the programme develop so many valuable skills and behaviours as a result of the experiences Stuart and his team provide. We are extremely appreciative of the support Adecco and their staff provide our school.
Alongside the top talent programme, our Enterprise Advisor has helped us transform the way we think about careers education. Using the Compass Tool provided by the Careers and Enterprise Company, we have been able to evaluate our provision against the Gatsby benchmarks and use this audit to develop our careers strategy across the school. In the past we have been guilty of launching a scattergun approach to careers, with events being run without considering their place in the curriculum. We are now working to ensure that events are mapped across our school curriculum and those who engage with these opportunities are tracked to ensure we are working with the most appropriate students to raise and support their aspirations. We have worked to ensure every year group encounter a different employer from science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries, using local labour market information provided by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to guide our decision making. We work to ensure students understand the range of careers available, bringing in diverse employers to share their experiences with students. Every year 9 is able to access over 40 different employers at the inspirational men and women’s events held every year. We use these as an opportunity to actively challenge gender stereotypes around careers.
In a climate where external accountability for exam results is high, and resources are stretched, I can understand why some schools do not put careers education as a priority. At Thomas Alleyne’s we believe that genuine, planned encounters with employers can make a positive difference to our students. Innovative Employer Engagement is one of our six themes of our aim high agenda. This year we are working to develop pre-event preparation work and post-event debrief sessions, including parents where possible, to ensure maximum benefit is gained from every encounter we provide our students with employers, further and higher education.