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Introductory work is included in the Social Education programme of Key Stage 3, and especially in work relating to option choices. Careers Education is also included in the Key Stage 4 programme and in Sixth Form tutorials. All Year 11 students participate in work experience, as do students in Year 12. The programme is supported by speakers, visits and special events such as Careers Conventions and Higher Education Conferences. The programme is supported by the staff of Careers South West who provide careers guidance to students.
Through tutorial sessions in the Summer Term we give students in Year 7 a gentle introduction to the realities of working life and they learn about the financial costs and benefits of different lifestyles. They begin to consider the various pathways leading to certain careers and see when in life they will have to make decisions about those paths.
In July, the whole year group take a day off their regular timetable to compete in a business activity, getting a tender together for a catering contract. They learn a little about how businesses operate and what skills are valued in the world of work.
In Year 7, Enterprise Day focused on making students aware of those skills and qualities valued in the workplace. The Real Game sessions emphasised the importance of planning ahead for life choices. In Year 8, students are shown how to research careers pathways through the Careers Library and ICT. They are given structured lessons that help them make informed choices when it comes to GCSE options. This is a course that is integrated with the Silver Library Skills certificate. It is revisited in Year 10 when students complete their Gold Library Skills certificate. Work-related vocabulary introduced in The Real Game is expanded through a terminology test as part of the Library research activity.
At the beginning of the year tutors hand out a document reiterating the meaning and importance of those employability skills introduced in Years 7 & 8. The document shows students when in the year they will have opportunities to identify/demonstrate/develop these skills through work done across the curriculum.
A similar document is used again at the end of the Year 10 to review what has been learnt and to correlate aptitudes/skills to possible careers/learning pathways. This review is drafted as a formal report – a Personal Statement – that is included in the main report to parents.
Students are taught why and how to write CVs and letters of application for jobs. Having drafted these documents in Year 9, they adapt and use them in applying for work experience in Year 10.
A further Enterprise Day, in which students are taken off timetable, develops the awareness of the skills and qualities needed to thrive in the workplace and builds on work done on the Year 7 Enterprise Day.
YEAR 10 AND BEYOND . . .
A-Level options being chosen in Year 10 makes this a particularly busy year for careers education.
Tutorials develop students’ awareness of the modern workplace. They become familiar with more sophisticated ICT to help them refine their careers/A-Level options research. Work in the Careers Library leads to every student completing the Gold Library Skills certificate, building on those skills picked up in Year 8 when completing the Silver Library Skills certificate.
Sixth Formers and senior staff deliver sessions giving advice and guidance on making A-Level choices.
For each student in the year group, careers interviews with a Careers South West advisor (the independent careers service used by schools in Devon and Cornwall), as well as with senior members of school staff, are designed to give extra support in decision making prior to the handing in of the A-Level options forms in the Spring Term.
In February, students are introduced to Work Experience: shown its importance and how to make applications for placements. All students go out on work experience in October of Year 11.
An Employability Skills Report, completed by each student at the end of the year, addresses the learning that has gone on in this area since Year 7 and encourages them to reflect on the decisions that lie ahead in terms of education, training and careers.
During Sixth Form induction week, after GCSE exams, students work with employers to focus on career pathways and complete a job interview exercise.
The Higher Education programme begins in Year 11 and is addressed in detail through PSHE in Years 12 & 13.