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Rachel Kitley, Principal of Cowes Enterprise College

08 Mar 2023

Rachel Kitley, Principal of Cowes Enterprise College, writes about the Maritime Futures initiative, connecting her school in the Isle of Wight with the island’s seafaring past, present and future and the rich diversity of careers in the sector. It is a great example of how linking learning in lessons with its practical application in the world of work sparks inspiration and enthusiasm in students. Rachel is now expanding the programme to other coastal communities   

In 2019, we introduced our Maritime Futures Curriculum, a comprehensive educational and careers framework which fully embraces the Isle of Wight’s rich seafaring heritage. Through this, we integrate the island’s maritime past – and present – into everything we do as a school.

Coastal communities can be perceived as disadvantaged and in decline, but we’re determined to change this stereotype, and prove to young people there are a huge number of exciting opportunities available to them. Up to 10% of our lessons in Key Stage 3 are linked to this golden thread, and we take practical steps to bring this legacy to life; arranging school trips and practical sessions to make sure we’re fully engaging our students.

This process has also provided us with an excellent platform for careers advice and guidance. We frequently invite employers from across the maritime sector into the school to share their experiences, and more importantly, showcase the options which are available to our young people.

By making these careers tangible, we hope to inspire the next generation, and give them the confidence to pursue jobs and opportunities across the sector. Maritime Futures has been central to our success in recent years and resulted in better engagement and attainment for students at Key Stage 3, with improvements greatest for disadvantaged students. We are now hard at work sharing this vision with maritime schools across the country.

Our 2023 Maritime Showcase will be supporting primaries and secondaries to develop and implement their own regionally specific take on the Maritime Curriculum. Already, we have worked with schools in London, Ipswich, Grimsby, Hull, Gosport and elsewhere, and it has been encouraging to see these schools embrace the ethos which underpins our approach.

What I hope our work showcases is that high-quality education and comprehensive careers advice are not mutually exclusive. The two can co-exist in schools, and even better, feed into one another and create a holistic curriculum. Not every school will have links to a maritime past, of course. Yet the process of building relationships with employers; giving students a tangible feel for the careers which may be out there; embedding practical insights into lessons; and capitalising on the industries and opportunities which surround every school, is both invaluable and achievable.