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Vinette Hoffman-Gibbs - All Saints Academy

04 May 2023

Navigating the careers landscape with GPS

Vinette is Assistant Headteacher, SEND Coordinator and Careers Leader at All Saints Academy Dunstable. Her school achieves 100% for BM6 – experiences of the workplace. She is a past BBC radio presenter, multi-award winning public speaker representing the UK internationally, STEM Advocate and published author.  She has real passion for delivering positive outcomes for her students and bringing innovation to her approach to careers education – a true Careers Champion.

Vinette’s inspiring and innovative approach to careers education is well illustrated by the GPS model she uses with her students. Just as GPS navigation systems are used to plan car journeys, the concept is applied to plot out and plan the career journey of her pupils.

The GPS model stands for Goal, Position, Start. Vinette uses it to structure conversations with students about what their career goal is and the direction they want to take, where they are currently positioned and then as the springboard to start the journey.

The model is used as a regular reference point to assess where students are on the pathway towards their goal and to map out whether they are choosing the right subjects and exploring different roles and careers, enabling the school to continually assess whether they are moving in the right direction to achieve their goal.

It’s also been found to be a great prompt for conversations with students about the obstacles and roadblocks that can occur during the career exploration journey, highlighting opportunities to change routes and choose a different direction when the original plan doesn’t work out.

Vinette’s stand out work is in delivering meaningful experiences of the workplace, where her school achieves 100% at Benchmark 6. Success in this area is founded on nurturing sustainable relationships with employers in the local area. Investing time developing networks and getting to know employers – touching base and catching up with them regularly, not just when looking for work experience placements - has been critical in deepening mutual understanding and support.

An equally vital part of the programme is getting to know the individual student, so the experience is planned and moulded around the whole person. Such preparation and planning have been essential to helping young people in the school explore career options and learn about themselves in the context of the workplace.

This approach is particularly important in Vinette’s role as SENDCO and the work she does supporting SEND students with experiences of the workplace. Here, Vinette says, it is more about overcoming perceived rather than actual barriers, offering solutions in how to manage certain situations with that young person and building the confidence of the employer.

She finds going in and talking to the employers is essential; explaining the issues case-by-case and how to focus on the young person’s strengths, introducing the student to the workplace so they understand the lie of the land. Once they have been guided through the process the school finds many employers are interested in bringing SEND students on board and supporting them.

Vinettes’s overall approach to careers can be characterised as a focus on skills rather than specific jobs; ensuring people from the world of work get in front of students and getting students to experience the workplace. She believes it’s important young people get to talk to real people and gain real life experience of work today. Such exposure to employers helps students see and relate to different individual’s career journey story and appreciate how many different pathways there are to achieving your goal.

The emphasis placed on skills is a recognition that while jobs and careers change, skills are transferable and applicable across a range of different roles and sectors. Vinette says, “There is a skill set to be learned from every single career. So we get them to focus on learning skills and where they can be applied, because once you start focusing on qualifications, that reinforces stereotypes of the sort of people who can do certain jobs.” Skills are therefore the bedrock for building qualities such as resilience and adaptability in an ever-changing careers landscape.

Vinette’s work has also led to a closer connection between the curriculum and careers – linking learning in lessons to its practical application in the workplace. She says students really begin to enjoy a subject when they see where it can lead and that they need it to achieve their career goal – it provides real purpose to why and what they are learning and generates a real buzz in the classroom.

The success of the careers education programme is founded on a whole school approach and policy with collaboration, repetition and reinforcement permeating all parts of the school so the messaging and support is aligned and consistent throughout the school experience.

As Vinette says, “Once we get all these elements working together, then kids will make that informed decision and enjoy the process of the careers exploration journey as well in getting to their desired career.”

Vinette was a panellist at our second Careers Excellence Seminar, tune in to watch the rich discussion about 'what does excellence in experiences of the workplace look like?'. 

Watch the Careers Excellence Seminar

Catch up on our Careers Excellence Seminar featuring Vinette as a panelist discussing 'what does excellence in experiences of the workplace look like?'.

Find out more