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Lisa Bowman is the Careers Leader at Kings International College, Camberley. Here, she writes about her experience in this role over the past year and the successes she has encountered.  

What I have discovered since starting my role

I have been in my current role as a Careers Leader for about a year now. Although I have found it challenging, it has been very exciting, extremely interesting and rewarding. The role itself is a whole lot bigger than I ever imagined it to be. However, I have always said I want to make a difference to the lives of children, and I never thought I would be fulfilling that wish.

Over the past year, my role has been absolutely amazing and I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have been involved in and all the different projects I have led on. I know that I have made a difference in our students’ lives this year; encouraging some to go on to an apprenticeship, further education, or college.

The challenges and successes

A challenge has been winning the students over. Before my role, the students didn’t have many encounters with the world of work, so I have had to put real effort into giving them an understanding of why these experiences and opportunities are so important and how important it is for them to gain key skills.

Before this, they would question why they were participating in career related activity, why they had to get involved, and they would not show much engagement or enthusiasm. However, over time, they have become keen to get involved and are much more positive about the activities put forward to them.

This year I ran a work experience programme.  We had 87 out of 110 students participate. It was great to see such a high level of engagement from the students. They seem to have really enjoyed it.  I have spoken to a number of Year 9 students who have caught me at break to tell me that they were looking out for work experience placements for themselves for next year after hearing how beneficial it was from the older students. It was wonderful to see the positivity and excitement funnel down through the year groups.

The changes I’ve seen in careers at my school  

The most significant change is that we now have a consistent careers programme. All students in every year group are receiving some sort of encounter with the world of work. The students are a lot more positive and we get a much better response back after the activity.

I have also gained positive reactions from the staff. Having a Careers Coordinator in place at Kings has given staff the opportunity to think about careers within their subjects, which they were not previously able to do given time constraints. I get a good amount of interaction from them.

I have the complete backing of our senior leadership team and it is very rare that something I request is turned down. When an opportunity arises, I have 100% support as they know how important it is for the students. They realise that these encounters have to happen and are fully behind me with everything I do.

Why the Careers Leader role is so important

If we are able to offer a careers provision that shows our students the vast range of career opportunities out in the world, I think we have done our jobs. This is such an important part of our role - to equip them with the knowledge they need to go out into the world of work and succeed. To get a job that they enjoy, that they are satisfied with, and to try get a good salary and be the best they can be in life.

I do feel I have made an impact on young peoples’ outcomes. I gather student feedback and the majority say they have found it a valuable experience.  It has given them confidence and have they gained more knowledge.

The Gatsby Benchmarks

I think the Gatsby Benchmarks are great.  They work really well together and, overall, when you look at all eight Benchmarks you can achieve the perfect careers programme. I met with Sir John Holman earlier this year and had an insightful conversation with him about the Benchmarks. Although I do think that it’s a massive undertaking and is underestimated by so many people, it is exactly what every school needs. If schools can implement them all, they will have a fantastic careers programme and ensure their students have everything they need to move on after education.

Interaction with other Careers Leaders

I interact with other Careers Leaders from different schools, mainly from the Careers Leader training that I am currently completing with Futures. This is a great networking opportunity. I will hopefully soon becoming part of a network hub, which is a group of Careers Leaders, all meeting once every half term to share best practice.

The Careers Leader training has been superb. It is actually a third of a masters degree and is quite full on. My training runs from May to October, and I have undertaken 3 days of training, assessments and will be completing a project before the end of October. I have learnt an awful lot from the training and feel that I have more of a support network from this. I would thoroughly recommend any Careers Leader to look into doing this training.