Is this the holy grail of careers ed –  careers activities that can be done in curriculum lessons, taught by the subject teachers?

It is certainly on my agenda for this year – again (!)

“If you can find a job you like, you will never have to work a day for the rest of your life” this quote is credited to Confucius, so proving that top class careers advice has been around for a very long time – but how to help our students find that job? (I’m assuming that we have all found ours…)

First of all there is no doubt that everyone from Nicky Morgan downwards is looking for “Real world skills” – you can’t open a paper without reading something on those lines and this is a nationwide ask, I think. Schools are supposed to address this but with no money to do so, so the easiest option would seem to be to incorporate it in the curriculum. We are promised by Nicky Morgan a new Careers body from Sep 2015 which will be “employer led”, but funding is only for a two year period. After that employers are expected to pick up the tab. Is that realistic?

There are many further questions that need answers (and I am often told about all the employers desperately keen to help in school – and there are a few – however from experience when trying to pin someone down to a specific date and time when you are constrained to a particular hour in the week it is not quite so easy!)

An ATL survey of its members found that:

  • Only 5% of teachers think careers advice has improved following Government changes
  • 78% of teachers think there is not enough time in the curriculum dedicated to careers guidance;
  • 78% of teachers think schools and colleges do not get enough funding for careers advice;
  • 69% of teachers think work experience should be compulsory.

Overwhelming opinions, but how to improve?

Most if not all subject teachers/leaders are rightly concerned with their own subject and are often under time pressures to get through the content of their course, let alone add further stuff. It is also understandably outside the comfort zone for many, especially as careers requirements and specifically LMI change constantly and quickly. So how to address this?

I think it’s important first of all to keep everyone informed of the careers ed that IS happening in school. I’ve tried using a weekly blog, twitter & going in to assemblies, attending pastoral and academic staff meetings whenever possible to keep interjecting careers related comments or questions, making sure careers area/notice board is visible and regularly updated, talking to governors about it, publicising Career guidance appointments or apprentice drop-ins  – basically raising the profile as much as possible. This may well lead to suggestions or ideas or offers to help but should at least stop anyone saying they don’t know what is going on!

Once at least some of these are in place, hopefully you can progress by inviting specific involvement from subject teachers eg hosting guest speakers, signing off employability passport activities, undertaking WEx visits, running STEM clubs, options evenings, PSHEE/Citizenship lessons or similar. Subject teachers are usually class tutors too – is there any available tutor time you could use? I’m lucky in that I can inflict regular careers activities via the PSHEE tutorial programme for tutors to deliver!

Once most these are in place – and this is where I think we are after several years in my current role – I am now hoping to encourage more direct engagement with careers by suggesting starters or plenary sessions to subject lessons. It is also often the case that we are already doing many careers related activities in subject curriculum time in school – can we make them more explicit? Sites with clips of different jobs such as   can be great and need very little planning preparation from the subject teacher, or simple five minute activities such as write down or discuss all the jobs that might be done in a particular place/what jobs could you do that would use the skills we have just practiced in this lesson/how might you use this knowledge in a particular job area/where could you go for further information on careers in this subject?

Once a teacher/subject is regularly adding in snippets like this, the final step is to add careers activities into the subject SoL; using real world scenarios to teach the skills & information in the first place. I know that some subjects lend themselves to this far more easily than others – if you have any great ideas, I’d love to hear them!

All of this, of course, is only really possible with support for your endeavours from your LG/SLT. The reality is that it is a very rare person who will volunteer to do extra/anything different unless they are guided from above; not necessarily because they don’t think it is a good idea but because of time constraints, and general exhaustion!

We are required to deliver “appropriate & impartial” careers advice for Y8 upwards. If this could have the added benefit of helping students to “see the point of” their curriculum lessons, surely it would be a win-win situation?

careers 2


Sue Moreton @suemoreton1 
IAG co-ordinator


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