Kearsley Academy is one of nearly 1,500 schools and colleges using Start - the country’s fastest growing free careers guidance software designed to help students to make better choices about their future. Through students’ use of the software, the school is able to access aspiration data around jobs, qualifications and destinations, as well as how students rate key employability skills.
Andrea and her colleagues plan to use this data to evidence and improve the delivery of their careers guidance programme, commenting “we will be able to respond quickly, both within our careers programme and within the curriculum by building in activities aligned to careers aspirations as well as targeting specific skills where a particular need has been identified by the data”.
Having recently visited the National Apprenticeship Show in Manchester with the whole of Year 11, Andrea has also been able to maximise the event’s impact by arranging follow up activities on Start the same afternoon, as soon as the students returned to school. Having spent the morning engaging with employers and getting ‘hands on’ with a wide range of work-related activities, students were able to reflect on their experiences and use Start to rate their skills and work preferences whilst the event was still fresh in their minds. This approach enabled students to consider what they had experienced at the event and to think about how it related to their future career and education pathways.
Andrea points out that one of her top priorities is to encourage students to consider a broad range of exciting opportunities beyond those which they feel are within their capability and is keen to involve local employers to bring those opportunities to life. The data in Track (the reporting package used to access student aspiration data in Start) will inform the academy’s employer engagement strategy so that all students will have access to relevant and meaningful employer interactions. Andrea suggests “knowing student aspirations is really important. Track enables us to look at preferred jobs for individuals or groups, and we can then look at what we can do to nurture those aspirations and identify who to get in to support and inform them, which is really exciting!”
Ensuring that employers are able to work with students with a genuine interest in their industry will of course be mutually beneficial and Start helps students to explore this interest even further through features such as live labour market information as well as inspiring user-generated video content from the Three Minute Hero campaign. Andrea adds “we highly value the local and national labour market information available on Start which has saved me a lot of background work and takes away the pain of having to research different sectors to inform the students about the availability of different careers in the area”.
So what next?
Like most schools, there are challenges around time and access to resources. However, ahead of a recent whole school ‘Progress Day’ Andrea introduced colleagues to Start and Track so they could deliver a session to parents and students simultaneously as part of the day and support students to register for Start whilst their parents were on site. This helped them to explore career choices with their child, related to their skills and achievements. The intention is to develop this and families are being encouraged to take the opportunity during the Christmas break to further explore job and education suggestions based on their own unique situation, to get students excited about their future as the New Year dawns.