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St Benedict's sets great example on careers education

St Benedict's sets great example on careers education By Diocese of Lancaster Education Service - CC BY-SA 4.0

A West Cumbrian school has been cited as a great example of how to deliver careers education and work experience despite the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

St Benedicts’s Catholic High School in Whitehaven has continued to roll out a full careers programme to all students across all year groups despite school closure and periods of lockdown.

It has done so through close engagement with the Cumbria Careers Hub, launched two years ago as a partnership between Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP), the Careers and Enterprise Company and 40 local schools and colleges, together with employers, universities, Inspira, training providers and career professionals.

Cumbria Careers Hub is one of 32 now operating in England with the objective of transforming careers education for young people by ensuring they’re better prepared for the world of work.

Careers events and activities that have taken place at St Benedict’s this academic year so far include:

  • Virtual work experience
  • Employer talks
  • Training provider virtual open evenings
  • BAE virtual open day for students and parents
  • STEM projects
  • University of Cumbria open day
  • University of Cumbria Creative & Cultural Masterclasses
  • REACT Foundation Science roadshow
  • Year 11 mock interviews
  • Virtual university fair
  • Year 9, 10 and 11 information evenings

CLEP Head of Skills Craig Ivison said St Benedict’s is proving a great example of what can be achieved when the worlds of education and work collaborate to offer the county’s young people the best possible introduction to the workplace.

He added: “St Benedict’s fantastic example shows just how this innovative partnership between employers, schools and colleges can secure greater consistency and depth in the quality of careers education and guidance and is delivering positive results for our young people.

“Through the Hub, we’ve been able to link the school with an Enterprise Adviser – in this case Gary Martin, Divisional Head of Services and Capabilities with McMenon Engineering in Workington.

“Gary has helped the school develop and deliver its Careers Strategy, which aims to ensure that each student gets appropriate guidance and support at the right time for them as they consider their options.”

Gary added: “McMenon is delighted to support St Benedict’s develop its Careers Strategy and support the staff in its delivery across the School.

“The external business input supports pupils make informed choices relating to their future career opportunities.”

St Benedict’s is currently fully achieving five Gatsby Benchmarks, which are a framework for good career guidance developed to support schools in providing students with the best possible careers education, information and advice, and is well on its way to fully meeting the three remaining benchmarks.

St Benedict’s has a whole school approach to delivering careers education. Teaching staff link the curriculum to careers through lessons, career activities, and employer engagement, so students receive regular and consistent careers information throughout their education.

Assistant Head Karen Kelso said: “We pride ourselves on making a big difference to our young people’s lives. We aim to ensure that every one of our pupils leaves us equipped with the necessary skills, qualifications and mind-set to take the next steps in leading a deeply rewarding life.

“We have a strong team of pastoral and academic staff working in partnership with a wide range of employees, many of whom are previous pupils of the school coming back to contribute to our activities. We are always receptive to businesses who want to work with us and have more exciting employer projects in development.

“We value the time McMenon allows us with our Enterpriser Adviser who makes an invaluable contribution to our work.”

Craig concluded: “We’re very proud of the way the Careers Hub is progressing and the partnership with business and industry offers several very effective ways in which businesses can help young people, such as the Enterprise Adviser scheme.

“We’re always happy to welcome other employers to join us in supporting Cumbria’s schools. Anyone interested is welcome to contact me on 07919 056134 for an initial chat.”

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