Careers, Information and Guidance
We believe that the range of opportunities to learn more about potential careers paths is one of the strong features of The Castle School, and is an area of real growth at present. In some areas, we believe we are doing some pioneering work. This growth has been particularly driven by;
a) A major updating of our Life Skills curriculum, led by Ms Clio Corpe. Every student has a weekly lesson of Life Skills (known as Enrichment in the Sixth Form), in which Careers and Guidance form a key theme, called Employability and Preparation for the Future.
b) The development of our Premium Partners scheme, bringing many local employers and businesses into a formal working relationship with our students. This scheme is led by Tess Wilkinson, our Business Development manager.
c) Development of a Preparation for Working Life course in Years 10/11 for all students, led by Mrs Dianne Lloyd.
d) An increasing focus on Apprenticeships, driven by student interest and local demand, as we try to guide all students to continue in some form of education or training to at least age 18.
Planning for further developments is continuing. Work on an exciting project to run an Employment Hub is ongoing and we are applying for a Charter Mark in Employability. Please contact Tess Wilkinson if you are an employer would like to know more.
For any general queries related to the school’s Information and Guidance programme, please contact Andy Bethell (Deputy Headteacher : Curriculum). For specific enquiries related to post16 issues, please contact Louise Davies (Assistant Headteacher : Head of Sixth Form).
A. Information and Guidance in Years 8-13
One of the themes of students’ Life Skills lessons is an introduction to Career Pathways. As part of this unit of work students explore what would be required to move into jobs, including CVs, letters of application and interviews. Students also spend Curriculum Focus Day developing their entrepreneurial skills through completing the Communication 2020 project. Working in teams, students create, plan and pitch a project idea to local businesses.
The main Life Skills theme of Term 1 is Ambitions, culminating in all students spending a day at the Ambitions Event. Castle School, along with other schools in South Glos, helps to organise this event held at UWE, with over 100 different employers, trade organisations, colleges and universities attending for 2 days.
At the event, each student has 5 face-to-face meetings with experts in 5 different fields, which the student has chosen in advance. These provide independent advice and guidance for the student. The event runs again in the evening, with all parents/carers encouraged to attend along with their children.
In Terms 3 and 4, the main Life Skills theme is Making Choices, culminating in students choosing their curriculum options for Years 10/11. The programme includes:
- An Information Evening for Parents/carers.
- Information sessions for students.
- 10/11 Taster lessons in all subjects already studied.
- Taster lessons in all potential ‘new’ subjects, where students choose which ones to attend.
- An opportunity for parents/carers and students to meet with teachers of all potential option subjects to discuss the students’ likely progress on that course.
- A review by tutors, with students, of their choices.
- Additional individual guidance interviews for all Pupil Premium, LAC and EHC students.
The major theme of the Life Skills curriculum is ‘Preparation for Working Life’. This programme, covered in Life Skills lessons, Curriculum Focus days, assemblies and in some core subjects, has 9 themes:
- Personal Awareness
- Healthy Lifestyles
- Relationships and Difference between people
- The Changing World of Work
- Applying for Jobs and Courses
- Financial Aspects of Life
- Employment Opportunities
- Enterprise Activities
- Identifying Hazards
Students also have sessions lead by some of our Premium Partners (local businesses and training agencies) on Letters of Application, CVs and Interview Skills. These volunteers visit classrooms to work with tutor groups, providing independent advice and guidance. As a result, every student completes a personal portfolio containing a CV, an example of a letter of application, and a set of personal key tips on interview skills.
A further part of the programme involves all students organising, applying for and carrying out a week of Work Experience in March of Year 10. Our aim is that students arrange their own placement, making use of our database of contacts as needed. Full support if available from Mrs Melanie Price in the Guidance Centre,. She also liaises with students and parents/carers to ensure that the host employer is aware of their health & safety responsibilities (a process which we arrange to be monitored by South Glos H&S team). There is no charge to students or parents/carers for this service. Pupil Premium, LAC and EHC students receive additional support as needed during this process. During the Work Experience placement, the school visits or makes contact with each employer, to receive feedback on the student’s progress.
The culmination of the programme is students sitting an exam which, along with their personal portfolio, leads to a student receiving an AQA Certificate in Preparation for Working Life. Our aim is for nearly every student to obtain this certificate by the end of Year 11, thus supporting their applications for their next steps in their education pathway.
Also during Year 10, for the most gifted and talented students a programme of experiences linked to competitive universities begins. This includes a visit to 1 of 2 Oxford University colleges – Lincoln College and Brasenose College – with which Castle School has forged strong links, and a medical careers experience.
Year 10 students and parents/carers are also encouraged to visit the evening session of our Ambitions event, with the opportunity to receive personal advice and guidance from over 100 different career organisations.
During Term 1, the Life Skills curriculum allows every student to receive a series of sessions run by different organisations providing advice and guidance on possible next steps for each individual. These include:
Further Education (SGS College, City of Bristol College and Hartpury College)
Apprenticeships (KTS training and SGS College)
Castle Sixth Form (Sixth Form leadership team)
Employment Skills and pathways (‘The HR Department’, a local HR firm and one of our Premium Partners)
Year 11 students and parents/carers are also encouraged to visit the evening session of our Ambitions event, with the opportunity to receive personal advice and guidance from over 100 different career organisations.
During Terms 3-5, all students receive at least one personal interview to discuss their possible plans after GCSEs, and to receive help with suitable applications. Pupil Premium, LAC and EHC students receive additional support. Tutors also monitor students’ progress towards preferred destinations throughout the year, and after GCSE results are published a help-desk is provided to support students with any concerns.
Years 12 and 13
All students have a weekly Enrichment lesson, in which Careers and Guidance is one of the major themes. In addition, students have the following entitlements arranged during Year 12 :
- All Level 3 students are taken a regional UCAS Information event, usually in April.
- All students can choose to be taken to a post-16 Ambitions event, focusing more on non-HE routes.
- An annual ‘Beyond the Castle’ event is held, at which Year 12 students along with parents/carers attend a variety of sessions of their choice with external experts representing : FE Colleges, Apprenticeships, Employment routes, Universities, Gap Years, Oxbridge, Medical Careers.
- An Aspirations Week, in which a series of employees from various backgrounds run drop-in meetings open to all sixth-formers.
- Networking Lunch. Over 35 of our Premium Partners, and other local employers, attend a formal networking lunch in the Sixth Form where they meet Year 12 students and share experiences about their careers. [See the 2014 lunch reported by BBC].
- Work Experience – students on the Level 1 and 2 Bridging Courses spend a day a week in a work placement, arranged and overseen as for Year 10 placements. Level 3 students can also choose to include a regular Work Experience placement within their Programme of Study, which is arranged and overseen in the same way.
- Work Shadowing – all level 3 students are encouraged to undertake at least one form of work shadowing, with time allocated during Term 6 for this to happen.
- All level 3 students are trained, in term 6, in how to set up and make a UCAS application if they choose to do so during Year 13.
- All students have formal 1:1 interviews with their tutor during the year, which can help signpost key further advice and guidance activities needed. Students on Level 1 or 2 Bridging courses also have a formal personal guidance interview with an external careers advisor built into their curriculum.
- Year 12/13 students and parents/carers are also encouraged to visit the evening session of our Ambitions event, with the opportunity to receive personal advice and guidance from over 100 different career organisations.
- Specific programmes of support are run for students considering applying for Oxbridge or Medical-related careers: these include residential and one-day visits, as well as visits from experts and current students in these fields.
- All Year 12 students can participate in our Sixth Form Bright Futures Society, run by students for students.
- Individual help-desk support is provided after AS and GCSE results are published in August.
- During Year 13, students can continue to participate in the events available in Year 12. In addition:
- All students receive support in applying for university, apprenticeships or employment.
- Volunteers and school staff provide interview training for all those facing external interviews linked to their applications.
- An additional event is held in school, run by the Student Loans company, to explain HE finance for students and parents/carers
- Individual help-desk support is provided after AS and GCSE results are published in August.
B. Particular Features of Our Information and Guidance Provision
1. The Guidance Centre
Located at our Park Road site, the Guidance Centre is staffed full-time all year-round by Mrs Melanie Price. It is open to any student in Years 7-13 with a query related to careers or work-related learning. Mrs Price oversees all Work Experience placements for students from Year 10-13. She can provide a database of employers who provide placements, ensures that all paperwork and appropriate Health & Safety risk assessments have been carried out, and that employers are aware of their obligations in this regard. The school engages the services of the South Glos Health and Safety team to monitor and quality assure this aspect of our provision. The Guidance Centre also liaises with other local schools/colleges to organise the Ambitions Event every October, and arranges for colleges and employers to come into school to speak to students, and organises various other one-off events to allow students to experience ideas of possible careers.
2. Additional Guidance within Sixth Form Site
At our Sixth Form, the Leadership and tutor team are experienced in providing individual guidance to post-16 students, and there is a programme of individual interviews for all students. In addition, there are specific staff who act as the point of reference for students with interest in specific career areas :
Coordination of UCAS advice and application support : Mr Dave Cooke
Apprenticeship routes and Opportunities : Mrs Sally Mathias
Oxbridge : Mrs Rebecca Wheeler
Medical-related Careers : Mr Dave Cooke/Mrs Kate Williams
3. Premium Partners
The Premium Partners are local businesses, employers and organisations who have made a formal link with the school, to provide face-to-face support for our students. Set up in 2011, this scheme is growing rapidly and each year we are seeing more partners in school providing direct support to students, both within curriculum subjects and in providing advice and guidance.
For more information, please contact Ms Tess Wilkinson or Mrs Sarah MacIsaac.
4. Business Forums and Networking Breakfasts'
As part of the Premium Partnership scheme, Business Fora are held at least 3 times a year, and allow partners to meet with staff and students – hosted each time by differing local partners. Each Forum centres around different groups of students making presentations or pitches to partners, and has resulted in many exciting schemes and opportunities taking place.
Breakfasts are held monthly in term times, where our Premium Partners meet and Year 12/13 students are encouraged to participate. These develop the confidence of students and introduce them to potential employers or referred contacts. We are aware that 75% of job opportunities are never advertised; we try to provide students with a way to grow a network before they leave school.
5. Preparation For Working Life
This course form a key part of our curriculum in Year 10/11, and our aim is that every student has obtained a formal Certificate in Working Life before they finish Year 11. This indicates to future employers that they have proved able to compile a CV, a letter of application and know about key interview skills, and have also passed an examination covering the 9 key themes related to good employees. This programme is designed and coordinated by Mrs Dianne Lloyd, and is examined and certified by AQA.
6. Bright Futures Society
Bright Futures is a national organisation, which runs and supports Bright Futures Societies in over 50 top UK universities. The aim is for students to organise and run events for students, which bring them into direct contact with employers. It is funded by support from many of the UK’s major employers.
In 2012, Bright Futures asked The Castle School to become the first secondary school in England to have a Bright Futures Society within the school. Each year, a committee of volunteer Sixth-Form students work to devise and run an event for their peers, which brings employers and employees into the school. Bright Futures provide an external mentor to support the committee.
For more information, please contact Mrs Sarah MacIsaac, who is the Society’s internal mentor.
7. Oxbridge Links
The school has developed particular expertise and support programmes to help students interested in applying to study at Oxford or Cambridge universities. Robinson College at Cambridge, plus Lincoln and Brasenose Colleges in Oxford, have built particularly strong links with the school, and regularly host and visit Castle students. There is a strong record of success, at Brasenose in particular, for Castle students – in 3 of the last 4 years a Castle student has begun undergraduate studies there.
8. Support for Stem Careers
A lot of work has been done in recent years to promote career opportunities within Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – one of the biggest employment specialisms in the Greater Bristol area. We are fortunate to be able to fund time for a member of staff – Mrs Rachel Beddoes – to act as coordinator for this work. The quality of the work she has already done was recognised by her receipt of the STEM Teacher of the Year Award 2014 for Bristol area, and we are very fortunate to have the support of many local employers, particularly Renishaw, in making these opportunities possible.
9. Information and Guidance Within Subject Curricula
All of our curriculum subjects seek opportunities to enrich their courses by providing opportunities for students to have personal contact with those working in related fields. Examples include :
- Regular Artist-in-Residence placements in our Octagon gallery, in which professional artists exhibit their own work and work with students in the related medium, as part of our ongoing Visual Arts specialism
- MFL, where A-level students carry out a week’s overseas work experience in the target language
- PE, where GCSE students carry out interviews – in person or via SKYPE, with international athletes
- Castle Challenge, where Year 7 students carry out a ‘murder mystery’ challenge over 6 weeks, where they learn about the role of forensic scientists, lawyers and police
- Dance Master classes – where professional dance companies work with our students of all ages to put on a joint performance
- Applied Science GCSE – where students carry out an individual research project into a Science-related job, including a face-to-face interview with a professional
- Maths – where young employees from Airbus UK come into lessons to share their experiences and work with students
- Health & Social Care/Childcare – where students spend up to 60 hours working alongside a professional to complete one of their BTEC assignments.