Options for improving the quality of careers provision

Options for improving the quality of careers provision

Lin Proctor, Raising Aspirations Director of Future Academies (including Pimlico Academy) recently presented at our ‘How to…’ event in London. She has very kindly written our latest blog.

‘As Raising Aspirations Director at Pimlico Academy my task in essence is to take students into the world of work and bring the world of work into the classroom.   As a result of my work I was invited to form part of the senior panel that produced the London Ambitions: Shaping a successful careers offer for all young Londoners.  I continue to work with the panel as an ambassador.  The main aim here is that every Londoner has at least 100 hours of experience of the world of work.   I have also been consulted for reports on work experience for NFER, APPG for Education and on advisory boards for a number of different industry bodies.

For me good careers education, advice and guidance is two-fold.

One, students must have access to good (or better) impartial advice through a variety of means and two, understand the skills they will need to access those opportunities when they leave school.

We know that for our year 9s – 60% of jobs they will do are not currently known.  Therefore, it is vital that we educate our young people, whilst at school, both to identify and develop those key employability skills.

Communication, empathy, team work, leadership, problem solving, creativity, curiosity, influence, engagement.  All skills we know will be required for the jobs of the future.  Possessed by people not Robots.

If I had a £ for every time I asked a student to identify when they had used teamwork skills, for example,  and they failed to mention a sports team, playing in a band or performing a play – I wouldn’t need to work!   This is particularly acute for young people with low social capital.  Where are their networks and knowledge to navigate this landscape?  Where are the resources to support their parents and carers?

As busy schools we are struggling with new exam requirements, curriculum changes, budget cuts and always – lack of time!  So careers education can often be the last thing that is considered.

I am often asked how we can measure the impact of Careers Education.    Well measurement is good – it is what schools do all the time – we are extremely data rich organisations.  Research helps.

The value of employer engagements thanks to Dr Anthony Mann’s* work is well documented.  Just five employer engagements during a school career and students are seven times less likely to be NEET and for every interaction will earn considerably more when they finally enter the work place.

Perhaps less well known is the work of Dr Steven Jones on the importance of using meaningful work experience in gaining access to our leading universities.

A shocking statistic here…

His research for the Sutton Trust looked at Year 13 students applying to the top universities in the land.  With the same GCSE grades, and the same predicted A level grades, Dr Jones found that students attending independent schools were 30% more likely to be offered a place than those attending non-selective state schools.  This was simply because of the way they talked more effectively about their experiences of the work place.

Surely that can’t be right or fair?

And what about securing places on apprenticeship programmes?

At Pimlico we don’t just focus on university applications – we are very committed to apprenticeships too.   University is not for everyone – so apprenticeships must be part of the answer.  So why is it then so difficult for young people to find out about and then apply for apprenticeships?  No surprise then that only 2% of school leavers are currently undertaking them.

So what do we do at Pimlico Academy?  First of all a reality check.  Our postcode is SW1 but 75% of students are on free school meals and for more than 50% of them, English is not spoken at home.

We have two dedicated staff and our job is to provide students with as wide a range of experiences as possible.   To provide a line of sight to the work place.

When I go into assemblies – I develop this theme.  You MUST have your qualifications – they are essential.   For me, good careers provision is about young people understanding that their qualifications are essential but they are not enough.  And my job is to facilitate all that not enough stuff.

So what is that not enough stuff? A programme of activities that starts from year 7 and caters to the needs of all the students we serve.  Annually we hold more than 300 events – anything from designing t-shirts at M&S to workplace visits across the capital.

Then there is our mentoring programme for year 12s, mock interviews for all 6th formers and workshops in financial awareness, tech skills, CVs and presentations and much more.

Another reason that helps the delivery of Career Education at Pimlico Academy is that I am part of senior leadership team, which is crucial as it ensures whole school buy in.   This work is valued by both the head and the governors.

And it works…   This year we had our highest ever number of year 13s going to the UK’s leading universities and 5% gaining places on high level apprenticeship schemes.

Moving forward our plans include greater whole staff engagement, close attention to Labour Market Information,  more employer-led student societies for example, law, engineering and media.

We want every child that leaves Pimlico Academy to find excitement, thinking about their future beyond school.   And that they are prepared, informed and confident to become part of the wider working world.’

*Education and Employers Taskforce

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