Careers education at Shrewsbury begins in the Third Form within the Personal and Social Development (PSD) Programme. The focus at this stage is on self-discovery. We use an online profiling questionnaire to help pupils analyse what motivates and interests them in the world of work.
The PSD programme provides a framework to establish the foundations of independent and sound decision-making. Exploring the results of their interest profile in more detail with the Head of Futures and their teachers builds on this over the following years.
In the summer term, workshops introduce them to employability skills such as project-planning, teamwork, problem-solving and communication. They undertake pupil-led social action projects which benefit the local community. These projects instigate some transferable skills whilst contributing to pupils’ personal development.
In the Fourth Form, pupils begin their co-curricular activities in Sports Leadership, Outdoor Skills or Combined Cadet Force, as well as starting their first year of GCSE studies.
In starting to specialise academically, whilst broadening their extra-curricular participation, pupils begin to make selective decisions about what they enjoy. They become aware of the way in which skills and aptitudes in different areas interconnect or complement each other and how those skills come together in different occupations.
Careers education through the PSD programme continues in the fourth form and pupils are guided to evaluate the skills and strengths they are developing and to articulate them in their cvs, applications, personal statements and covering letters.
Careers lectures in the Summer Term introduce pupils to external speakers from several contrasting professional areas to give them an overview of the current and future opportunities and challenges of different jobs.
In this key year, pupils begin to put their broader experiences into context as they start to plan ahead beyond GCSE. The Fifth Form Options Fair comprises a series of subject talks to help pupils make the important decision about their next academic step.
The careers team helps pupils to understand the significance of different A Level combinations for university and employment.
The whole year group takes a careers profiling test at the beginning of the Fifth Form, which results in a detailed, personalised report identifying diverse career choices that match individual pupils’ relative strengths and professed interests. This provides the stimulus for an impartial one-to-one interview with external coaches to explore the content of the report and to introduce them to the additional resources and support that are available to them.
In the PSD programme there are sessions focussed on the value of work experience and on the practicalities of getting work: compiling a cv and writing a covering letter. This is often the first summer vacation in which pupils attempt to find work, either in paid summer jobs or in work experience placements, so help is provided in presenting themselves effectively to future employers and reflecting on what they have gained from these experiences.
After the summer exams, pupils also enjoy their first visits to universities and more focussed careers talks.
The focus for Sixth Form students is on researching information on all the options open to them. The Higher Education Adviser and the Head of Futures deliver the full range of advice through lectures, workshops and one-to-one guidance to enable pupils to identify their strengths, vocations and ambitions.
In the Lower Sixth, every pupil receives at least one personal guidance interview, to prepare them for the transition from school to university or work. This is complemented by a year-long programme of talks open to all Sixth Form pupils given by university representatives and professionals from a range of sectors, to give them a flavour of the breadth of the opportunities on offer to them. They are encouraged to visit the careers staff as frequently as they need to in order to explore their ideas in more depth and for support in their decision-making.
Many pupils will attend university open days during the year, and pupils are encouraged to discuss all their ideas with the Higher Education Adviser, the Elite Universities Adviser, the Head of Futures, their tutors, teachers, housemasters and parents. A wide range of perspectives is always helpful when there is so much choice. More than 98% of pupils will choose to apply for university in the first term of the Upper Sixth, so the Lower Sixth year is an important time for researching all the possible options.
Upper Sixth pupils are guided through the application processes for universities, including Oxbridge, and are given assistance to plan effective and fulfilling gap years if they choose that option. All Oxbridge applicants have a mentor to guide them through the application, preparation and interview process, as well as support from the Elite Universities Adviser. The Higher Education Adviser guides all applicants through the UCAS process.
Students are encouraged to give careful consideration to the alternative routes beyond Shrewsbury, such as the growing number of competitive school leavers’ programmes and apprenticeships offered by top employers in corporate, vocational or military environments. These salaried programmes combine workplace training with further study, often leading to a degree as well as professional qualifications. For many young people this is now an attractive option as they quickly gain employment skills, experience and job security without the burden of student debt.
Whatever their preferred destination, it is essential that pupils gain work experience during and after the Sixth Form. Exposure to the workplace is regarded as a necessity by both employment recruiters and admissions tutors for the more vocational degrees such as medicine, dentistry, law, veterinary science, engineering and business. It demonstrates an understanding of the nature of the work as well as the development of some key skills. Students are coached to identify and understand what they have achieved during work or a gap year experience and then to communicate that in applications and interviews.
Lower Sixth students are offered practical training sessions in networking skills and interview practice. They also enjoy a Careers Conference towards the end of the Summer Term at which parents and Old Salopians from a wide range of professions give a fascinating and first-hand insight into careers through seminars, presentations and a networking event.