As a careers education consultant one of the major frustrations and barriers I encounter when working with career leaders is the isolation of the role. Often, sad to say, a careers leader is a single person, working alone with minimal support (if at all) and expected to ‘do the whole job’ for the entire school. Thankfully, this stereotype is starting to recede, and many schools are waking up to the idea that careers is a whole school issue. This having been acknowledged, many careers leaders will be struggling with overseeing the preparations for National Careers Week alongside their ‘day to day’ workload. This article is intended to suggest a few ways to lighten the load and make the process more enjoyable for everyone.
- Make decisions now. Look at your capacity. What can you realistically do with your existing resources?
- If you’ve got a whole heap of stuff that you’ve done previously, look at it and review. What went well? Were there better ideas? What needs a freshen up? What needs to be dropped? What would you like to add?
- If you’ve never done anything for NCW previously, look at the resources that are available to you. Start with a manageable small programme. It’s better to plan a small amount well than to plan a whole load and feel like a failure when/if the plans flounder. If you do this, then you’ve still provided opportunities for learning that were not there before.
- Quick wins. Just as a few drops of rain can start a flood, small activities when joined together can have a big impact.
- Getting staff to use the NCW door plaque4 on a door showing the jobs they’ve done and the skills they’ve used is a powerful conversation starter.
- A simple tutor time activity4 will provide focus and can be fun.
- Look at the pledge templates1 that are available from the NCW website. Distribute them to staff and ask them to make a pledge and share it either on social media (within school guidelines of course), or by printing out and displaying on their door/wall.
- Print out and display the inspirational quotes and/or vocabulary displays4 and update your careers display boards.
- Send out the parents’ guide to NCW5 to encourage parent/student conversations.
- Look at ways that you can share the workload. Build a network of school careers champions who can support you. These are members of staff and/or pupils who can support you with some of the distribution and communication activities, not just during NCW, but throughout the year. There are various ways that this can be done. I explored the concept in one of my series of blogs on building a whole school ethos4a. NCW have also put together a suite of resources to support building a champion team4b.
- Make it virtual. Last year with the challenges of COVID, NCW worked on presenting a virtual career fair2. They’re continuing this year and, providing you can get access to the necessary IT resources, it can be accessed at various times and can even be set as homework.
- Make it social. Hold a careers café event6 . This is something you can do as part of a breakfast-time activity, making it easy to fit into the employers’ time. If your school is still holding off from in-person events, this can be adapted to be virtual by holding the event in an IT room with employers attending via Zoom or Teams (other virtual platforms are available). Just advertise, ensure that supervision is in place, and watch whilst students talk to employers.
- Publicise. Speak to the person overseeing the school social media/newsletters and use the planning and publicity downloads1 to ensure that everyone in the school knows when NCW is. Bang the drum about how important it is and where and when activities are happening. It’s especially important for parents and stakeholders to be included.
Finally, talk to your network. What is everyone else doing? Are there any ideas you could borrow? Events you can join in with? Resources that can be shared? It’s a big week, you should be able to enjoy it too.
Now relax and look forward to NCW2022!
- Planning and publicity downloads https://ncw2020.co.uk/planning-publicity-printables/
- Virtual Careers Fair https://ncw2022.co.uk/
- Offline NCW Activities https://ncw2020.co.uk/activities/
- Careers Champions
- NCW Career Champions https://ncw2020.co.uk/careers-champion/
- Outstanding Careers Career Champions http://www.outstandingcareers.co.uk/ceiag-and-careers-leaders?aid=24974
- Parents Guide https://ncw2020.co.uk/resource-link/the-parents-guide-to-national-careers-week-2021/
- Careers Café https://nationalcareersweek.com/ncw-2019-careers-cafe-resources/
Janet is a teacher with over 15 years experience providing award winning careers education and 25 successful years teaching business studies in schools and colleges throughout London. She adopted her tongue-in-cheek Twitter name, @CareersDefender, after a particularly hard time convincing her school’s Senior Leadership Team of the value of careers education; something she passionately believes in.