Good advice for life: Preparing young people for the World Beyond School

This week marks National Careers Week (4th – 9th March 2019), which aims to raise awareness of the importance of high-quality careers education, information advice and guidance (CEIAG) for social mobility, school improvement and preparing young people to make a success of their lives.

In the build-up to this important week, seven schools from across our RSA Family of Academies came together to reconfirm our commitment to preparing young people for the ‘World Beyond School’. Teachers, senior school leaders, governors and external careers educationalist all took part in a one-day Commitment Leads workshop to discuss developing excellence in careers education using the Gatsby Benchmarks. By 2020 all schools are expected to be delivering on all 8 Gatsby Benchmarks and the new Ofsted inspection framework will start to take CEIAG into consideration, demonstrates the importance of high-quality careers education for school improvement and social justice.

However, despite some of these measures being the most radical policy changes to CEIAG in recent years, British teenagers are still worried about how their education is preparing them for their future. New research from the Career Colleges Trust reveals 66% of the 1,000 13-16-year olds surveyed as part of this research believe that league tables and academic grades are the main focus of our current education system. Only 13% of the students felt that preparing for their future careers was at the heart of education.

Preparing for the world beyond school matters at every stage in a child’s life. Throughout the Commitment Day, RSAA colleagues spoke of the challenges in overcoming negative stereotypes and low aspirations at every stage in a child’s schooling. Evidence from the charity Education and Employers has shown that even during the primary phase, children as young as seven have already started to form ideas about what sort of careers they see available to them. Children at this age are particularly influenced by the career role models – or perhaps lack of – around them, with 36% basing their career aspirations on someone they know. A statistic that becomes problematic for many of our schools that serve communities with higher than average levels of deprivation, unemployment and insecure work.

Empowering young people to make positive and informed decisions about their future starts with empowering schools to be ‘mission-led’. We need a broad education where academic progress and learning go hand in hand with character development and opportunities that enable all pupils to make a success in their lives. Therefore, all RSA academies follow a ‘Commitment’ to preparing pupils for the ‘World Beyond School’. This commitment starts at our primary phase and goes right the way through to our secondary schools.

Through our youth social action programmes RSA4 and RSA8 we develop positive characteristics that will serve students well in their future such as leadership, communication and teamwork. We have established meaningful partnerships with community employers, local enterprise partnerships and higher education intuitions through our ‘Opening Doors for Business’ programme, WOW Show and our relationship with the University of Warwick. Finally, we know that our school staff are creative educators and understand how to best serve their communities. We want to develop every school Commitment Lead to feel confident delivering powerful knowledge about the opportunities available to pupils – whether that be continuing in education, vocational training or meaningful work – regardless of pupil’s individual starting points.

If you are interested in helping us to develop our distinct commitment to preparing pupils for the World Beyond School, please contact hannah.breeze@rsaacademies.org.uk to find out more.

Related project: RSA Academies and Careers Education Related project: ‘Arts and creativity’ and ‘world beyond school’ commitments