Skip to Main Content ⏎.
Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

West of England Careers Hub – Aspire Academy

Aspire Academy

The West of England Careers Hub work with schools across the region. The team provide support alongside the Careers & Enterprise Company, which includes Enterprise Advisers, Gatsby Benchmarking, SEND and information events.

 

What is the area of challenge or good practice the exemplar addresses or supports?

A stable careers programme – Benchmark 1 but also BM4 and BM5.

What were the learning outcomes or objectives for the exemplar?

To develop a better understand on why curriculum and careers link is important.

How they can impact the student’s career aspirations within their department?

We wanted to establish a new curriculum subject called “Aspire” that allows students in KS3 to gain access to leadership development, study skills, business and enterprise skills and learning about careers.   

  • To create a curriculum that develops the aspirations of young people 
  • To provide opportunities to consciously develop careers related skills (soft skills) and study skills  
  • To strengthen the careers programme in our school at KS3 
  • To provide opportunities within the curriculum for employer/ employee engagement

What are the key steps in the implementation of the activity or encounter?

  • Clarify the vision behind the curriculum content 
  • Find the curriculum time in order to deliver a meaningful programme- we came to 1 hour per fortnight  
  • Establish a handpicked delivery team to make the content and materials 
  • Provide opportunity for the wider teaching team to be briefed  
  • Launch with students, staff and parents 
  • Establish a mode for measuring impact and gaining feedback  

Outline the key steps required to deliver the encounter or activity.

  • The team met on several occasions during the Summer term 2019, discussing the vision and intention for the programme and how it would look in the students’ timetables and in their weeks 
  • They worked in smaller groups to produce the materials and to them train/ brief the wider group 
  • Each area of content was given the same amount of time to start with and materials were tweaked, developed and refined as they went along 
  • Outcomes and objectives were written onto the programme but mid- year we came across the CDI frameworks for a careers programme, as part of the Careers Leaders’ training. We decided to use this to assess the content of the programme and identify gaps in it 
  • Staff were told about the vision, delivery method and the content once the first session had happened during a T&L early morning briefing – at this point their tutees were asking about it and talking about it
  • We invested in really beautiful “journals” for students to keep about their work. These were records of encounters and thoughts but not to be “marked” particularly. They were also to help us plan and modify the content  
  • Parents were briefed in a parents’ focus group (after a few months) and more feedback was gained from those who attended 
  • In a Challenge Partners review in November, we put lessons up for observation and student voice activity. This proved to be extremely positive  
  • In January, we held a School Forum meeting to assess the impact of the careers programme more widely and gain feedback specifically about Aspire. The programme was tweaked to include the ideas that student asked for, for example, finance and money matters 
  • After positive feedback on an employer encounter, we also wanted to enhance this part of the programme, so had booked in several interesting speakers to come and deliver sessions, before lockdown occurred. Obviously these did not happen so we have asked parents, some of these speakers and other contacts to record a talk to use in our sessions in the future. These are going to be rolled out in Year 2
  • During lockdown, we have added more content for students to get them to focus on the future, and provided some of the opportunities we would have offered in a virtual format 
  • We have then released parts of the Future Skills questionnaire in order to gain further impact and analysis of how to shape content for year 2. We plan to use this as a benchmark and then complete the whole questionnaire yearly from now on
  • This is now being planned to include learning outcomes from the CDI framework we missed for KS3 and build in new outcomes from the KS4 framework

How was success measured and what impact has been achieved by the activity or encounter?

  • Student voice activities

Challenge Partner’s report November 2019 quotation:  

“A culture of aspiration is growing through the wider curriculum. The Aspire programme in Years 7- 9 was seen to be highly effective in raising students’ ambitions. ‘They help us with our futures’ said one student; another commented that Aspire has taught them to how to ‘become a good leader’." 

Unifrog Benchmark tracking: 

Y7 209 students: areas for development BM7 and BM8 

Y8 201 students: areas for development BM5, BM7 and BM8 

Y9 198 students: areas for development BM8 

  • Compass audits completed with partner from West of England Careers Hub – BM1 T6 18/19 52% - T6 19/20 88%

Future Skills questionnaire completed in lockdown 3 sections used and 181 respondents: 

Data collection through use of the Future Skills questionnaire set during lockdown. 3 sections used – 181 respondents. Approximately 60 from each year group 7-9.  

The Aspire curriculum has, for the first time, provided students with a structure for them to see that careers and the future are in their control.  

This is the first year that we have undertaken this survey.  

In the questionnaire, students were either neutral or positive about the majority of questions. Where there was a little change were the questions about specific pathways for future progression. For example, 28.2% had not thought about a university route, 32.6% had not yet considered a route into work, and 33.7% had not yet considered whether an apprenticeship was the route for them.  

In Year 9, specifically areas for development come from their responses to writing CVs (43.3%) and being successful at job interviews (15%).  

This is despite a Unifrog task set in both Y8 and Y9 that explicitly asked them to prepare a CV. 35 students in Y8 and 38 students in Y9 completed this task.  Had our Enrichment week gone ahead as planned, students in Year 9 would have had a full interview day with preparation sessions on CV writing and having successful interviews.  

What went well and what would be even better if?

The positivity surrounding Aspire from both staff and students has been lovely to have. We have been agile to try and respond when students have asked for more of something – but COVID-19 stopped some of this happening! 

The CDI training for the Careers Leader enhanced our understanding of how we could map progress into the course and therefore keep developing into Y2 and Y3. Our next steps are finalising the programme for Y3. And considering how to work in the useful materials for students in Y11 who have not received them at all. We plan to work on a week long programme for Y10 this year as work experience has been cancelled. This will bring the Aspire + materials to them.  

We also want to consider how the Sixth form programme will need tweaking given the impact of Aspire. Currently we use an external provider to deliver leadership work to Sixth form students via “Grass roots”. This is likely to include a re-working of these sessions.  

 

Want to know more?

To find out more about the Careers Hub and other education provider support services, please visit our Skills page - take me to Skills.