Careers Support: How do you meet the careers needs of a diverse catchment area?

This short film follows an academy with a diverse catchment that includes areas of deprivation with several generations of worklessness in families, mixed with first generations of students going to university, a high number of students with English as their additional language as well as many gifted and talented students.

Their careers programme needs to be broad in order to meet every student's needs.

Bedford Academy employ Mandy Green as their aspirations lead. Mandy began working on their careers programme six years ago and has achieved the Careers Quality Award, with Bedford Academy becoming one of the first schools in the country to have achieved all of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks of good practise. They were also awarded ‘school of the year’ by the Careers Excellence Awards 2019.

Mandy tells us how important it is that schools meet the benchmarks in a sustainable way rather than seeing it as a tick box exercise.

We also learn how Mandy negotiates the issues careers staff face, such as balancing meeting the benchmarks while not always being able to take students' time away from their core lessons or GCSE courses.

Mandy uses creative ideas such as employer visits in year 8 and university visits in year 7.

She says: “The children are like sponges in year 7 and 8, the sooner they learn about it the more likely they are to aspire to do it”.

In her role as aspirations lead Mandy is supported by a full time careers adviser called Jon Dawe.

Jon tells us how he helps students to work through the masses of information that they are bombarded with: “My role is to guide them and to help them to make the right decisions. Just having information is not enough.”

Looking ahead, Mandy says now that they have met the benchmarks, they are focusing more on the details of what they offer.

She tells us that they are asking themselves what else they can do so that students can really develop their careers management skills.

She asks: “What more can we do so that students don’t just get to where they want to be but can be successful in all future transitions and their whole career?”.

This is one of a series of five, which looks at how a diverse range of schools and careers practitioners from across the UK approach careers support and examines what’s working well for them.

More from Careers Support:

How do you create a personalised careers journey for every student?
Delivering careers education, guidance and experience of work to students with additional needs
Using creative enterprise projects and links with external organisations
How can we encourage children to raise their career aspirations from as early as age 5?