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The benefits from Careers Leader training

Jackie McGarry is the Careers Leader at Catcote Academy in Hartlepool. Jackie was awarded a fully funded training bursary for high – quality face-to-face Careers Leader training. All Careers Leaders are able to apply and register for Careers Leader training. Here she reflects on the Careers Leader training she completed earlier this year, over a 6-month period.

This is my fourth year as the Careers Leader at Catcote Academy. We are based in Hartlepool and have five different sites. We have a Sixth Form and an Academy that caters for secondary, and post-16 students with Special Educational Needs. We also have Catcote Futures, Learning and Skills Centre, which caters for our Post 19 students and lifelong learners who have severe and complex needs.  We have a shop in the centre of town ‘Catcote Metro’ and also a café ‘The Vestry’ both are open to the public and offer invaluable work experience to our students. We have recently also acquired a caravan, this is based at Crimdon Dene and offers further opportunities for our students to gain independent living skills, employability skills and offers respite for families on a weekend and over the holidays.

Experience of the training

The training was delivered by RGG Associates, who are based in York. I carried out this training over a six-month period, I found it be really beneficial to my day to day tasks as Careers Leader. The content of the training was second to none. I found that everything covered was extremely relevant to my role, including the assignments that were tasked to us throughout the duration of the course.

Although it was tricky to manage alongside my busy role as a Careers Leader, it was well worth it. One of the assignments that I found to be the most useful enabled us to carry out an audit and review our Careers Plan. It really gave me a focus to look at our careers strategy across the trust and to continue to build on and implement a structured careers plan.

It was great to discuss the various careers programmes and strategies, other material I found really useful was understanding the relevance and influence of the statutory guidance, CDI framework, Gatsby benchmarks and Quality and Assurance of Inspection frameworks.  The assignments have also been useful for our governance and to share with SLT.

Sharing good practice

It was also beneficial to share good practice with the other professionals who attended the training. Together we spoke about what works well, what doesn’t work so well etc. If one school was struggling with a particular Gatsby Benchmark, we would then all share some solutions that we found works well to overcome the barrier.

I have also shared our work experience process and paperwork with lots of other schools across the country. I feel there is a lot of things that SEND schools can learn from mainstream schools but also vice versa, mainstream schools can learn a lot from SEND schools.

I really enjoyed having these conversations with other schools and find out what they’re doing to prepare the students for the world of work.

Putting the training into practice to help support the Gatsby Benchmarks

We have been doing well on the Gatsby Benchmarks, and working towards these for about four years now, and we are already meeting six of the benchmarks in full. The training added value to the Benchmarks. For me, it gave that focus to look at what we can do better, whilst also continuing to meet the targets we are currently achieving.

Meaningful encounters are key

Through our employment engagement strategy, we have built up a network of over 70 employers who are committed to offering a variety of support from school assemblies, to mock interviews, work place visits, classroom based ‘employer’ led careers lessons and work experience. We recognise the importance of offering ‘meaningful encounters’ with employers to further assist our students in deciding about their future careers.

Our motto is ‘focus on what our students CAN do, not what they can’t.’

The most rewarding part of my role

Making a different to young people’s lives and opening their eyes to the opportunities out there for them and also breaking down the barriers and perceptions that some employers may have about employing a young person with SEND

Our Senior Leadership Team team are very supportive and passionate about offering our students an excellent careers programme to enable them to make informed choices and to prepare them for adulthood and the world of work.  We are committed to ensuring that all of our students have the opportunity to realise their full potential and gain the skills, experience, knowledge  and confidence to succeed in the future.

It is so rewarding to see our students’ self-esteem and confidence increase by having the opportunity to showcase their talents and skills in the work place.


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Registrations for a fully funded Careers Leader training bursary are open now: here.