Why Calderstones School scooped GMLPF sponsored careers award

Rich Tapestry of Life

Calderstones School is the only over-subscribed state funded comprehensive in Liverpool. Their annual intake is a staggering ten classes.

Two hundred and fifty five students in each year group ensure a rich tapestry of school culture.

No wonder that they are too busy to pay heed to Michael Wilshaw’s comments during 2015 that schools are ‘selfish’ in their careers advice. That does not mean, however that they aren’t contradicting that in every sense possible.

‘A La Carte’ Careers Advice

The school’s entry to The Educate Awards at the end of last year in a bid for The Career Inspiration Award, sponsored by GMLPF, was truly outstanding.

Having caught the judges’ eyes with their ‘A La Carte’ careers advice, they were worthy winners. We spoke to Deputy Head Sharon Ellis to find out more. She says:

‘Career advice is part of the curriculum here at Calderstones. From year 7 to 13 we put significant time and resources into inspiring our pupils understanding the full range of career pathways available.  It isn’t one size fits all here, so each pupil is given individual advice. Yes of course we have to manage expectations, say where somebody isn’t suited to A Levels; but there are always other options that will actually realise pupil potential much more effectively.’

World of Work Day

In their award entry, the Calderstones team demonstrated that all staff are expected to inspire pupils and to deliver sessions to engage the entire school community, including parents.

The initiatives by the school to achieve this are wide ranging. An attempt is made to funnel pupils based on ability, what they are interested in and where they are most likely to succeed.  This starts in the classroom, and extends throughout the school and onto the internet.

Every term, there is a careers assembly. Guest speakers have included representatives from many of the city’s training providers.

The highlight of the careers calendar is ‘World of Work Day’. Every two years the careers fair creates a buzz around school and attracts big employers such as leading law firm Hill Dickinson to engineering companies such as TTE.  Royal & Sun Alliance also support the school with mock interviews.

During the course of the year students went off campus to learn more about different industries and careers. Visits were hosted by Laing O’Rourke to see the new Alder Hey site and Bibby Offshore in Aberdeen.

As well as North West universities, students with extraordinary academic ability were able to visit both Oxbridge Universities. The school was also able to offer financial support so that students could attend Medlink conferences and residential courses at Cambridge University.

Practical Measures

Practical measures are taken including a careers advice wall; whilst access to the national Apprenticeship website is arranged for older pupils.

The initiatives listed above are just examples. Calderstones School has a full time careers mentor, Chris Murphy who helps to coordinate a comprehensive programme throughout the year.

Alongside careers advice students are encouraged to develop in other ways to get themselves ready for the world of work and enrich their experiences.

The National Citizenship Service has allowed students to develop their transferable skills and improve interview techniques, as well as build their CVs.

Pupils who need extra guidance have taken part in the New Horizon programme, helping year 10 and 11 students with employability skills.  Stress busting workshops, time management coaching and visits from past students all contribute to the menu of advice on offer.

For the last two years Calderstones School has ensured that on completion of their education all pupils have secured relevant education, employment and training opportunities. Considering the number of students at transition points at the end of each academic year this is a real achievement.

Leading to Amazing Careers

Calderstones’ most recent information on the destinations of their students makes interesting reading.

Sixth form students have gone on to degrees in law and criminology, biomedical science and chemical engineering. Other further education was pursued by 16 years olds in everything from games design to music and bricklaying to beauty.

Some students enrolled in the armed forces, including one Royal Marine. And during 2015 a good number of students went enrolled on Apprenticeships, starting careers in professions ranging from hairdressing to plumbing.

Greater Merseyside Learning Providers’ Federation (GMLPF) Chief Executive James Glendenning says: ‘Schools are responsible for offering careers advice to their pupils including viable career alternatives to staying on at school’.

‘The award put the spotlight on schools that are taking their responsibilities seriously. We sponsor this award to highlight good practice and provide inspiration to other schools.’ he said.