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Raising Career Aspirations and Broadening Horizons Amongst Young People

Greenwood Academies Trust is making sure its school leavers are completely ready for a future world of work...

  • Raising Career Aspirations and Broadening Horizons Amongst Young People

To the leadership at Greenwood Academies Trust, raising aspirations and broadening horizons amongst our young people is mission critical.

We want our young people to have information about the workplace and to meet inspirational people in a wide variety of roles so that we can address any preconceptions they have about careers and gender. It’s also vital that they have the career management skills they need to succeed in the workplace and in their lifetime.

Our ‘Your Character Counts’ initiative was launched last year and it underpins everything that we do. We give our young people experiences that they might not have had so that it builds their resilience, confidence and problem solving skills, since these are skills that we know will become even more important in future. 

Key research done on careers and employability education found that if young people have four memorable meaningful interactions with employers before leaving school then they’re five times more likely to be successful in getting a job.

We aim for this as a bare minimum, and doing so has had a huge impact.

At primary level we have a series of events called ‘What’s my Line?’, where we invite people in a range of different occupations into meet the children.

The children are given a list of jobs beforehand and they can ask closed questions to try and match the job to the person. That’s been a fantastic way of addressing gender stereotypes!

Each person then goes and spends time with the children in their classroom so they can find out more about their profession. This could be fire and rescue, science, medicine – the main thing is to give them access to a variety of role models.

Since we started this, we’ve seen the effect on our students and it’s engaged them with the local community in a great way.

A bespoke approach

We have a strategy that every school in the Trust works to but how they deliver the objectives is up to our schools. Each school is different and we understand this.

We support them by putting them in touch with different businesses and organisations that can help and letting them know about the range of programmes that exist.

We want our schools to have ownership over what they do, and although it does take longer, it’s more sustainable for each school because it belongs to them.

Two of the things that we do insist on is that we have a careers lead and that they go through a programme of training. The training covers how they will implement the Gatsby benchmarks for all of their students in a sustainable programme.

Several of our schools now have the Teach First award and we treat it as a quality assurance measure. In this year’s KS2 version of the award, this was achieved by Hazel Leys, which is the third primary school in the country to achieve it.

A taste of real life

In Corby, an area that social mobility needs more support, we worked with local businesses during British Industry Week, inviting them in to share their career stories.

RS Components is a big local employer in the area and they brought in a virtual reality truck that allowed young people to try different pieces of equipment and think about the careers of the future.

We partner with large local employers like DHL and Capital One, working with them to offer insight into different roles within each organisation and we can use the expertise of their staff to help inform our young people.

To make sure we’re representing all routes, we ask for people who went in as an apprentice as well as the university route.

While at primary level it’s about raising aspirations, at secondary it’s important to wrap everything together with a face-to-face interview to help young people discover where they need to go with the information and hopes that they have.

We make sure we have that in place at key transition points, from Year 8 through to leavers in Year 13, where we become more targeted with the information and guidance we give them.

It’s this sort of end-to-end approach combined with character education that we think will have the biggest impact for our young people. For us, that’s what it’s all about.

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