It’s almost impossible for me to credit that National Careers Week (NCW) will be 10 this year.
I got involved in the very first NCW and took part every single year, firstly as a careers leader in a secondary school and eventually as one of the directors. Whilst, due to work commitments, I had to step down from my directorship last year, I’m still very supportive of NCW and the impetus that it gives careers education in schools. For this reason, I’m very happy to pen this blog as my birthday tribute to NCW.
This year NCW runs from 1st to 6th of March and will be even more visible in the media with support from sponsors, The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) and the Department for Education (DfE), along with many other organisations. It’s become the high point of the careers year. This makes it ideal as a jumping off point for involving the whole school in your careers programme and making them part of your careers team.
Team? What team?
Hang on, I hear those cries, so many careers leaders work in isolation; anything with the word careers in the title gets put into your pigeonhole and it’s your responsibility.
Well, it’s time for this to change.
Careers is too big a job for one person to do.
The Skills for Jobs White Paper published in late January sets out how the Government intends to update the FE provision in the UK. However, it also includes a number of resultant changes in the secondary sector:
- Ofsted to undertake a thematic review to see how well careers education and guidance is being delivered in England
- Careers will be a required input into year 7 as well as 8-13
- An intention to publish updated statutory guidance
- Increased penalties for non-compliance with the Baker Clause
In my opinion, the most important point is this quote from page 47 of the document.
That passage alone indicates that careers is about to become a more visible part of the curriculum and something that requires a whole-school approach.
Who needs to be involved in careers in secondary schools?
In my Careers Ed for Schools Booklet that is available to download from NCW, I outlined the major responsibilities for many roles. This should give you some ideas. Each role is even available to print out or share in single role specific versions.
However, in this blog I want to concentrate on simple ways in which you can use NCW to energise each group and bring them closer to the goal of careers being a whole school ethos.
Remember, these are only a starting point, you may have other thoughts. My thinking is that once you’ve got them involved in NCW, it’s easier to keep them engaged and part of the solution.
Governors are ultimately responsible for the school complying with the legal requirements for CEIAG and should be fully aware of what is going on in the careers department. Why not use NCW as an excuse to give them a presentation of where you are on delivering a fantastic careers programme at their next meeting, or even better, get your governors to record some short interviews or even Tik Toks which can be shared with the rest of the school as part of a NCW programme. If you have a link Governor, then get them to lean on the rest of the team to take part.
SLT should be behind your improvement programme, so identify who is most on board and use them to rope in other SLT members to deliver assemblies or even to spread the word about how central careers is to the whole school ethos by including careers objectives in staff review or CPD objectives, or even in the next school development plan.
Get each department to undertake to deliver one lesson with a careers focus to each year group. If there is apathy within a department negotiate an agreeable input, say one per key stage. Don’t waste time with those that dig their heels in and say no. Work with the willing ones and ensure that SLT heap praise on them. Use the CEC resources search feature to help you to provide less ‘on board’ subject leaders with off the peg resources that need little or no work to fit into the curriculum.
Ensure that every class in their year group has access to the inspiration quotes from the NCW downloadable resources page. Use them to frame tutor time or assembly themes.
If every member of staff has a NCW career path filled in and on their classroom door (or this year, more likely as their page on Google Classroom or to share in Teams), it will open staff up to so many more career discussions.
Perhaps put together a quiz: Who can identify the longest list of ‘jobs’ in the school? Or get staff to write a very short description of their role and run an activity where pupils need to identify which role is which. In a more ‘normal’ year, I’d suggest a NCW career path on display for everyone but that’s a big reach this year.
If you already have pupil career champions, they should already be involved in NCW. This year NCW is planning to formalise the idea and will be publishing resources for NCW Champions.
In addition, to get all pupils involved you can try activities such as online quizzes or virtual drop-in sessions (the sky is the limit and I know you guys are much more creative than I). They key is to share good practice and the various careers leader forums have some great ideas.
Parents are vital. Use the school messaging system to publicise events taking place such as virtual careers fairs or employer engagement events that they can experience with their child. Ask parents to record Zoom or Teams talks about their job. Just putting together a set of questions and asking the parents to answer them whilst talking to their phone or laptop camera can produce some interesting videos. There are loads of jobs out there that most people have never heard of. Who knows you may have a few amongst your parents.
Employers and other stakeholders
The obvious way to get them involved is to ask them to take part in events. However, thinking laterally may have a better take up rate. Ask them to take part in the NCW pledge campaign. What can they do to support NCW? At the very least this gives you contacts and opportunities to ask stakeholders to take part in NCW activities as well as those later on in the year.
A virtual business breakfast is a lovely way to pay forward for their involvement with your school, allowing them to meet and find out about other local businesses and perhaps find new customers or collaborators.
NCW have put together a fantastic social media pack with loads of ready-made tweets and posts that allow you to spread the word and get more people involved.
Finally, remember all these ideas have been tailored to fit into the pandemic. Hopefully, next year, we can take part in a face-to-face NCW- who knows you might even get a posh coffee and a danish at the business breakfast in 2022.
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.