Many know the saying attributed to Confucius “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Wise words, but is life ever that easy? Young people now face an ever-increasing range of degree choices and career opportunities, which can often seem almost overwhelming. The Careers Department, through education, support and guidance, empowers Sutton Valence pupils to make their own informed decisions which will ease their transition from School into Higher Education and the world of work.
As Head of Careers, I believe it is never too early to start thinking about the future. The Careers Department provides a bespoke service to all pupils aged from 11 to 18, to give support and guidance in order that each may realise their unique aspirations.
In accordance with the Education Act 2011, through me, the School offers pupils one-to-one, professional and impartial guidance, supplemented by quality, careers guidance software: Job Explorer Database and Higher Ideas. Both are available on the School intranet, which pupils can use to build a careers portfolio and also a comprehensive and easily accessible careers library. Within the PSHE programme, I deliver interactive career sessions on careers-related topics, such as decision making, personal skills and qualities, CV writing and interview skills, alongside the careers-related activities that are embedded in the curriculum and co-curriculum.
An annual careers convention offers the opportunity to meet and network with a broad range of professionals, employers and organisations, in addition to inspirational and motivational speakers who are invited in to present. I am available at every Parents and Options Evening to offer guidance on any careers-related topic to both parents and pupils. Fourth Form are given the opportunity to undertake psychometric testing, arranged in School, which encourages them to think about their skills and abilities. Then, in Fifth Form, pupils have individual discussions prior to taking their GCSEs, where they agree on an action plan to support and guide them through the transition to Sixth Form and beyond.
Parents and pupils are kept informed of the latest careers news regarding university and training courses, apprenticeships and job opportunities through the School’s weekly newsletter. Pupils are also regularly sent emails keeping them up-to-date with careers and labour market information and useful web sites or phone apps for them to browse.
The School aims to facilitate a high quality insight in to the world of work through work shadowing or work experience, which supports pupils in exploring possible career options; this is done through a database, maintained by the School, of current parents, local employers and Old Suttonians.
By the time pupils reach Sixth Form they should be armed with all the information and help they need regarding their university applications. This includes a visit to the Higher Education Convention at the University of Kent to experience lectures, campus tours and meet university admissions tutors from all over the UK and a visit to the University of Sussex for a Taster Day. Pupils will also experience lectures on degree subject choices. Additionally, Sixth Form pupils are made aware of all their options on leaving school and some choose a Higher Apprenticeship or School Leaver Scheme, as an alternative to university. These pupils are supported individually and help is given with the compilation of CVs, application letters and interview technique.
During the summer term of their Lower Sixth year, I work closely with the Head of Sixth Form to deliver a full week of preparation for successful completion of the UCAS procedure, or for studying abroad. As you will see from A Brief Guide to Applying for University (hyperlink to document), we have a structured and supportive process in place to assist pupils with their application, with the aim of having UCAS documentation submitted in their Upper Sixth year, by the beginning of November, at the latest.
We prepare our young people for the opportunities and responsibilities of life so they have the skills, knowledge and resilience to flourish. A job for life is becoming a rarity in today’s fast moving global economy, however, if young people acquire important employability skills such as a willingness to learn, self-motivation, good communication and team working they will have the skills to adapt and succeed.
Mrs Christine Carter
Useful Careers and University Websites
General careers guidance
University and degree courses
Alternatives to university
Apprenticeships and School Leaver programmes