As an acknowledgement of how well regarded our CEIAG provision is at Heathfield Community College we were part of a visit by Clare McDonald, Deputy Director of Careers and Basic Skills from the Department for Education on Thursday 28th February.
The DfE visitors accompanied East Sussex Enterprise Advisors from the Careers & Enterprise Service looking at the success and challenges for schools in our location offering the highest quality careers education.
They were particularly impressed with the clear programme of CEAIG in all years, the clear and independent advice given at all stages of transition, the quality and quantity of employer engagement both in College and off site. They commented on the range and depth of student leadership, crediting the College on preparing students for the world of employment, not just with excellent outcomes, but with the skills that make our students stand out in the workplace. There was also recognition of the value and quality of careers advice that was embedded within the curriculum, signposted in subjects and the knowledge and skills gained through high quality teaching.
“I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it was one of the best visits I’ve been on” said Clare Macdonald as part of her feedback, confirming that with no additional sources of funding and the transport challenges of a rural location, it is impressive to have the range and depth of engagement and careers education that students at Heathfield enjoy.
As a key event in their sixth form careers programme, Year 12 took full advantage of their Next Steps Day on Wednesday 27 February. Students were off-timetable for the day in order to attend talks on apprenticeship, university, employment and gap year opportunities. The college facilitates direct encounters with employers and higher education providers, and our sixth-formers have voiced how much they value these opportunities.
Students learned about life on campus, the truth about student finance, choosing courses and so much more from Suzi Lamb and a student ambassador from the University of Brighton.
Jackie Sams from UES advised students on applying to university in the USA – a route that is slowly growing in popularity with UK students. Anne Smellie from Oyster Worldwide enticed students with exciting tales of gap year experiences across the globe, whilst Peter Cobrin of Employment Pathways talked students through the need to have a stand-out CV and application in the fiercely competitive world of employment applications. Janet Bass, our independent careers adviser also reminded students of the personal guidance appointments they can book with her throughout their studies at sixth form.
Jo Taylor, Head of PSHEE, explored developments in higher and degree apprenticeships and shared up to the minute labour market information on current opportunities for school leavers. She was supported by Heathfield alumnus and trainee teacher Ellie Kaye who brought her professional experience of working in human resources and recruitment to the discussion, advising students on how to impress through applications and in interview.
Current Year 13 students eloquently shared their very recent experiences of applying to top degree apprenticeships with companies such as JP Morgan and Deloitte; describing the multiple, demanding recruitment activities such organisations use to whittle down 1000s of applications to just a handful of successful recruits.
Students also learned about, signed into and began to use Unifrog: an online one-stop-shop which allows students to research and search for courses and apprenticeships, create shortlists based on their personal needs or preferences and then to begin to shape personal statements and covering letters. We will be returning to this useful site over the coming months in tutorials and in PSHE careers lessons for Year 12 after Easter.
In the afternoon, students reflected and began self-research, in order to begin to think about their strengths and preferences ahead of shortlisting progression routes. Students began action planning: considering what they need to focus on in the coming months to ensure they have what universities and employers are looking for. These action plans will be developed and discussed in individual coaching sessions with their tutors.
Overall a most useful day, which we hope will help inform the students’ upcoming visit to the UCAS Convention at The Brighton Centre on 25 April.