Careers advice has changed a great deal since I was at school. It has probably, dare I say, changed a great deal since the majority of you, as parents, were at school as well. I don’t know what your individual experiences of this were like, but I know mine was not great.
Back in the early 2000’s careers advice was limited to a paper survey that asked a range of questions about your preferences for working environments. Questions such as, “Do you like working with children?” or “Do you like working outside?”, were all answered on a form using a pencil to fill in the little check boxes for either a positive or negative response. Ironically, I distinctly remember answering “No!” to the question about working with children! I also remember the outcome of my questionnaire. It was ‘Park Warden’. The idea of being a park warden now seems rather idyllic and romantic, like something out of a good novel, but at the age of 15, I couldn’t think of anything less inspiring. I wanted to be a Vet, or a Lawyer, or the next David Attenborough, not maintaining rhododendrons in the rain and telling people to “get off the grass!”
Back then, as there had been for many years, there was a much greater emphasis on finding a career, getting into it and sticking with it until retirement at 60. At this point you would be presented with a gold watch for your years of dedicated service, and sail off happily into the sunset. Nowadays, this could not be further from reality. Aside from the change to the retirement age, pushing closer each year towards 70, the current generation of students in the UK, and those that follow, will have a significantly more varied career path than students who have gone before them. They will climb their careers ladders by hopping between companies, building up their networks and developing their experience portfolios. Research suggests that over 40% of the jobs that the current cohort of 14-17 year olds will go into, don’t even exist yet. The dynamic nature of our planet, and the increasing speed in which we are required to adapt to change, means that we are preparing teenagers and young adults to enter the world of work with somewhat limited information on what opportunities might be available to them. A little worrying perhaps, but very exciting!
Preparing students for such a transition from the tight structure of British education to the world of work, where there are multiple uncertainties, is therefore something that schools must carefully consider. Here at the High School, careers education is carefully embedded across the curriculum from an early age. We start by looking at ourselves and identifying who we are, what strengths we possess and where our interests lie.
As students progress through the school, we look more at some of the practical elements of the world of work. Making choices for their GCSEs in Year 9 is one of the first big turning points for our Senior students and they are ably assisted in this process by both academic and pastoral teams across the school. Workshops on CV building, interview practice and making a good first impression are still relevant and play an important part of our Year 10 careers curriculum. This year group also have the opportunity to engage with some optional 1:1 sessions with an independent careers advisor as part of their preparations for their post-16 education decisions. This forms an important opportunity for them to gain some independent advice and carefully consider their next steps. In order to provide this effectively, we use an external company, CWR, who are local to us here in Northampton. In the 1:1 sessions students will be exploring what they enjoy, strengths and interests and looking at post-16 choices. Together with a CWR Careers Coach, students will put in place a plan and have a clearer path forward, enabling them to feel more confident making their choices. There will be a further 1:1 session available in the autumn term 2023 for those needing additional support.
The CWR team have run career workshops for our students for many years. The workshops are thought provoking and comprehensive, which our students find to be both useful and inspiring, helping hugely to enhance employability skills of our students. The company is headed by its founder, Charlotte Sykes.
Charlotte has extensive experience delivering dynamic training, coaching and recruitment to businesses, individuals and to the education sector. She has a wealth of industry knowledge, an extensive network and a reputation for the quality of her approach. She is a Registered Professional with the Career Development Institute, a Member of the CIPD, a Member of the Association for Coaching and an Enterprise Advisor for a Northamptonshire School for the Careers & Enterprise Company. She is a Level 6 Qualified Careers Coach, REC Qualified Recruiter and Co-Founder of Be Career Confident.
Then in Year 11, all students are invited to attend the consultations evenings, where staff will host discussions with them and with you as parents. This support is mirrored by the ongoing support throughout the Sixth Form, in guiding students towards potential university places, apprenticeship opportunities and the wider world of work beyond education.
The period of time between Year 10 and Year 13, often referred to as the ‘Four Year Journey’ by us here at the High School, is an important and exciting time for students. Decisions to be made and choices to consider, but we are here to support our students, and their families, as they embark on this voyage. If you would like any additional information on our dynamic careers programme at Northampton High School, please do reach out to us and we will be pleased to explore this with you.
Deputy Head Pastoral