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Whole school and college approach to careers education is key to supporting our young people now and into the future. Head Teacher, GCSE, A Level Results, Nicola Hall

As a former Headteacher of both a 14-18 Studio School and an 11-18 community secondary school I have experienced the charged emotions which surround A’ level and GCSE results days; both in the build up to and delivery of results on the day.

School and College staff, along with their students, have so much invested in these moments. They are defining moments. I have, however, never had to deal with a situation like that which has been unfolding over the last week. I quake every time I think about the challenges my colleagues, students and families are dealing with at this current time.

What I do know though is that strong, well planned, and impartial careers information advice and guidance have never been more important.

We need to ensure that all the young people we work with have a right to access the highest levels of support. Because at these moments of uncertainty many will be questioning their next steps, interrogating their choices and in many cases making high stakes last minute changes to plans which they felt were secure.

The heightened need for a trusted source of guidance and support has been unfolding throughout the pandemic as young people have lost opportunities to layer their academic studies with experiences and encounters which help to inspire them and inform their choices.

We have seen the apprenticeships and employment landscape change before us and many exploring technical education routes are being forced to look for their plan B; all this preceding the challenging result days, which hundreds of thousands of young people have been caught up in.

So now, I think we can fairly say that all young people have been directly affected in respect of their future decision making and that now is the time for Careers Leaders to be recognised for the role they play as a central cog in all school or college development planning.

The key question that is dominating my thoughts is – What Next?

Right now, of course we need to ensure that “what next?” is answered for every young person that we work with; enabling every one of them to have a positive and well-informed destination.

Over the next fortnight in particular, pastoral leaders, form tutors, heads of year 11 and 13, subject leaders and teachers; every member of the SLT will work together to become the supporters of great guidance and support to help make those transitions happen.

The Careers Leader is, in the words of Sir John Holman of The Gatsby Foundation, “the conductor of the orchestra.” They hold the information, the resources, and the value that all young people need to make great decisions.

But, we all have a responsibility to consider the longer term “what next?” To ensure that each and every one of our schools, special schools and colleges in England has a well-supported careers programme which not only helps to give young people their game plan for the future but also develops the skills they need to succeed.

So as a headteacher, SLT member, Careers Leader we must:

  • Enable all young people to know where they can go now and next to access the best possible support and guidance.
  • Consider what we can do to support their transitions at every level.
  • Think hard about the guidance we provide, the quality and impartiality of our whole school/college programmes and access to all the choices available.
  • Strategically plan together to ensure careers education is resourced, built into recovery missions, is fundamentally linked to school improvement priorities and by design treated with equal importance.

With so much uncertainty, we owe young people that much.

Note:

To support your school and college through results days and across the coming year, at The Careers & Enterprise Company we have developed My Choices. A programme of national support for transitions and careers guidance which is being further tailored to local need by our Careers Hubs and Local Enterprise Partnerships. Please visit our website www.careersandenterprise.co.uk/mychoices to access the resources and support available.