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What's the trick to rolling out personalised careers education?

04 Feb 2022

We hear from Lisa and Jackie from Catcote Academy. A SEND School in Hartlepool. They tell us how they use personalised careers programmes to help every young person in their school know about the types of careers they could go into. 

How do we help every young person have their best adult life?

Careers education is a massive part of this. But careers education can’t be general and off the peg.

The magic happens when it’s personal, tailored, forensically focused on the individual. Each young person is different and unique, with different interests, skills, approaches, backgrounds and challenges faced and overcome.

In our special school we see that beautiful diversity in every single student. If our careers education programme doesn’t reflect that, then there’s no point in it existing.

Personal guidance interviews are the cornerstone of how this happens. If you want to prepare young people for the world of work, you need to listen to them, and understand where they want to go and what they might be interested in.

We don’t just do one personal guidance interview at the end of Year 11. They happen at the start of Year 10, and every student has another interview every year they are with us. Our careers team are qualified specialists, but also know how to work with young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). They design our employer engagement around what those students are interested in. They organise placements based on those interviews. We invite employers who have a track record of working with young people with SEND to our career fairs based on those one-to-one guidance sessions.


Lisa Greig & Jackie McGarry, Chief Executive and Careers Leader at Catcote Academy in Hartlepool

Read our Trends in Careers Education report

Find out more about how schools and colleges prepared their students for the world of work last year.

Download the report
Shy bairns get nowt

Lisa Greig & Jackie McGarry, Catcote Academy

That personalisation starts from the careers interview, but it doesn’t end there. Labour market information can often be complex and inaccessible. We want our students to know about the jobs available in our local area, the types of careers they could go into and what the progression through those industries might be. But we personalise the work we do around this to make sure it’s as relevant for an autistic young person as it is for a deaf young person.

One way we do this is by highlighting real life stories. Recently, when we were discussing careers paths in catering, we brought a former student back to the school who is now a chef in the army. A former student, standing tall and confident and loving his career and telling our students that “if I can do it, then you can do it too and don’t ever think you can’t” was the perfect way to bring a labour market session to life.

So what’s the trick to rolling out personalised careers education?

The first is resource. We have a full time Careers Leader, job coaches, a careers advisor and admin support too. We couldn’t visit all our employers, work with them on reasonable adjustments, run so many workshops and placements if we didn’t have the staff.

The second is passion. We always say “shy bairns get nowt” – our team knock on every door, make those links, get businesses and providers on side so they’ll support our students.

If schools and colleges can get this right, then their students will be set up for the rest of their lives.

This article first appeared in our recent Trends in Careers Education report. Read more about how schools and colleges prepared their students for the world of work last year in Trends in Careers Education.

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