‘Inspiration’ ~ noun.
Creativity, enthusiasm, genius, imagination, influence, motivation, muse, spur, stimulus.
With the publication of the latest (March 2015) statutory guidance for Careers guidance & inspiration in schools it becomes more and more obvious that schools can no longer rely on a brief careers interview in Y11 to fulfil their duty in this regard. Indeed the inclusion of the word inspiration in the title is a very broad hint that the “duty” of the past will no longer be sufficient.
Who wouldn’t rather be inspiring than merely fulfil their obligations?
For all but a lucky few extremely well resourced & staffed schools, this will mean that it cannot be the role of just one person or department, but rather involve ALL staff, SLT, and even dragging local business people off the street. Well, inviting them in, anyway.
My previous blog on this subject https://dhsbteaching.org.uk/2015/01/20/careers-in-the-classroom/ encouraged the start of subject teacher involvement; here are a few hopefully more specific ways you can engage, and inspire.
Firstly, most subject teachers will also have some kind of pastoral responsibility as a form tutor, house leader or similar, and in this role will have to deal with many everyday catastrophes and quandaries. This should naturally extend itself into career guidance, albeit of a general nature, and also referrals to a specialist as appropriate. I often get requests for careers interviews from HoH for a student who is not necessarily wanting specific advice but may be generally unfocussed and in need of suggestions and possibilities. Many teachers are parents of teenage children, too, bringing their experience of all the coexisting confrontation and communication breakdowns…
Teachers will often have had careers experiences of their own before coming to teaching, and will certainly have gone through the trials and tribulations of choosing a degree subject and a university. At my school I regularly update a spreadsheet of subject/specialism and university/college which is shared with Y12 – if one of them is considering a particular place this immediately gives them a new source of guidance. We also have as a warm up activity for Y10 a powerpoint of “previous lives” – which member of staff used to work at the Foreign Office? Who was a cheese expert and also a parachute instructor? (That wasn’t me, although the cheese sounds good…)
Probably even more relevant in this age when we are told that most of us will enjoy several separate “careers” rather than the old job for life scenario.
Teachers also need to introduce links to the business world within their subjects; easier in some than others, I know, but do-able for all. Why not challenge each Head of Department to arrange at least one employer visit/workplace trip over the year, and report back. Immediate evidence of real world engagement and not too heavy a burden for anyone.
I recently took a group of students to a local building development, just for a couple of hours, and they were fascinated to hear real people (as opposed to teachers) telling them of the range of opportunities, the rewards available, and the employability skills needed, which leads us neatly to my final point.
As well as subject specific links such as the use of scientific processes in forensic medicine or development of new pasty products for a food manufacturer (both of which we have undertaken with local employers over the past couple of years) there are also those generic employability skills such as communication and team work that can be cross curricular. We are developing, with other local secondary schools, an Employability Passport – a kind of in-house D of E award – to realise, recognise and reward some of these skills, which will have the backing of local employers, council and universities. If a student can act as a leader whilst overseeing a school production, or fulfil peer mentoring duties with younger students for a year, these activities are surely as valuable as a grade at GCSE?
These four elements will need, as I have stated previously, to be given the full backing of senior leaders. They are those ultimately responsible for the fulfilment of the statutory duty, after all.
The teachers? They are too busy being inspiring!