Schools are challenged to create an effective careers programme with often limited resources. Careers Advisors are increasingly being measured against the Gatsby Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks.
I’m a Scientist and our other student-led enrichment activities can help support a school’s career programme.
1. A stable careers programme
Every school and college should have an embedded programme of career education and guidance that is known and understood by pupils, parents, teachers, governors and employers.
All of our activities follow a clear format that is recognisable to teachers and easily understood by students of all abilities and ages. Regardless of subject, clear careers guidance opportunities are communicated to teachers.
The activity is run throughout term time, making it easy for schools to schedule the activities into their annual careers programme. The programme is stable – I’m a Scientist has run in the same format since 2008.
2. Learning from career and labour market information
Every pupil, and their parents, should have access to good quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities. They will need the support of an informed adviser to make best use of available information.
There are currently hundreds of professional profiles across I’m a Scientist, I’m an Engineer, and other activities. Profiles contain Labour Market Information and Career Pathway links. School careers advisors and parents can access these profiles.
During certain activities there are opportunities for joint parent-student interaction with the professionals, in the form of evening Chats which students can attend from home.
3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
Pupils have different career guidance needs at different stages. Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each pupil. A school’s careers programme should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout.
The activity is student-led, with pupils able to pose the questions most important to them as individuals, to the professionals most relevant to their personal interest. The questions they ask reflect their current stage when thinking about careers – one Y9 may ask for GCSE advice, while another might want to know about work experiences, or the UCAS application process.
The activity’s online platform allows 1000s of students to have near-simultaneous conversations with 100s of professionals, each tailored to their own needs.
For a 4-week activity such as I’m a Scientist, students are assigned to a zone with an average of 6 professionals, with access to more zones if they wish. Each set of professionals is gender balanced, and includes at least one BAME professional. A variety of entry levels to work is normally presented. In addition, professionals are able to talk about their personal lives on their profiles, allowing for diverse representation including LGBTQ+ individuals, disabled people and other minorities.
4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths.
The I’m a… activities are careers interventions that are embedded in curriculum studies – I’m a Scientist takes place in science lessons, I’m a Mathematician in Maths, I’m History in History and so on. Teachers often refer back to the activity and the professionals involved during later teaching of relevant parts of the curriculum.
The student-led nature of the activities mean that conversations revolve around a mixture of subject specific questions and careers/education questions, based on the interests of the students. Professionals often link subject-specific questions to their work and careers, and their varying careers demonstrates the value of STEM subjects for a range of future professions.
5. Encounters with employers and employees
Every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.
Every student taking part in the activity has the chance to connect with at least 5 different professionals in different work environments. This includes those in the students’ Zone, and the opportunity to visit the profiles and work environments represented in other zones. The professionals involved are working for a range of employers, which is especially useful to students from schools in areas where employer diversity is limited.
The online, informal, pseudonymous nature of the activity provides students with direct and authentic encounters in a manner unmatched by more formal face-to-face meetings.
Through their conversations, professionals communicate to students the skills that are valued in the workplace, and what it is like to work in their field on a day-to-day basis – they’re not just showcasing the best parts.
7. Encounters with further and higher education
All pupils should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace.
The activity will normally include a mixture of professionals, some of whom have taken a vocational, others an academic route. Some are fairly recent graduates with current experience of higher education and apprenticeships, able to offer relevant advice and insights to students.
Profiles often include links to employers and educational facilities, and, where available, links to more information about entry routes to their profession.
For more information about the Gatsby Benchmarks, see goodcareerguidance.org.uk
Get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01225 326 892