The Careers Department is here to advise students and their parents and support them on making the right choices throughout their school career. This advice includes ensuring students are given clear guidance on the options that are available to them and are fully informed on the implications of the options that are chosen. The guidance provided will help students make informed GCSE and A Level choices that will ultimately help all students to fulfil their potential.Throughout their time at SWPS, students develop their skills in many ways – not only in their academic studies but in holding positions of responsibility, leading teams, making presentations and participating in a wide variety of co-curricular activities. These develop many of the transferable skills essential for the world of work. The Careers Department enables students to identify their strengths, weaknesses and interests relating to the world of work. By learning about different careers and opportunities, they will be able to identify the best options for them individually through one to one support and guidance.
Step into the NHS Careers Competition
Year 8 students participate in the NHS Careers Competition. This aims to develop employability and enterprise skills as well as educating them about careers available within the NHS. This is intended to help students think about what they might want to do in the future.
As part of the PSHCE programme, all students in Year 9 have a series of sessions organised by the Head of Careers, looking at their personal skills and strengths as well as types of jobs in relation to skill level and earnings. These lessons help students begin to think about their own career aspirations. The school has also got access to a software programme, called Probe, which allows students in Year 9 to identify career paths through a simple online questionnaire.
The Options Programme
The options programme starts with the Parents’/Carers’ information evening in the autumn term. Careers implications of GCSE options are explained and consultations with the Head of Careers are offered and arranged where necessary.
The £10 Challenge
All Year 9 students participate in this competition. The aim of the challenge is to help students develop their understanding of the different factors involved in setting up and running a business. They gain an insight into being an entrepreneur, understand how different departments in business work together and learn how to communicate and share ideas in a business team.
The challenge uses real money to take calculated risks in business. The groups are given £10 and come up with innovative ways of turning the £10 into as much money as possible. They can either make a product or provide a service. At end of the challenge, the groups present what they have done, why they chose to do it and how much they generated from the £10. They also provide a breakdown of their expenses and their expenditure. All profits made are donated to a charity of their choice and the initial £10 is returned. The winners are selected based on the amount of money they have made, how innovative their business idea is and the quality of their presentation.
The challenge is designed to encourage students to be innovative and work well together as a team, as well as getting students to think about some of the fundamental elements of running a business. They are appointed specific roles to suit their skills and learn about the importance of those roles in business.
Formal careers lessons continue, delivered by the Head of Careers, as part of the PSHCE curriculum. The aim of the course is for students to understand the rapid developments in the world of work and to develop their research, ICT, team-working, communication and presentation skills. The following specific areas are covered:
- Options post-16, including an explanation of the implications of A level choices and how to choose
- Exploration of careers software (e.g. Higher Ideas) and on-line resources
- Further consideration of the changing world of work
- Starting to write CVs and covering letters.
In the summer term, all students participate in the Morrisby psychometric testing and reporting, delivered by an external careers advisory company. The Morrisby tests can offer advice to students regarding A level options and university degree courses, as well as relevant career suggestions based on their test results.
All students in Year 10 and above are invited to attend interactive careers seminars covering a wide range of industries. They can sign up for these on Firefly and can attend the sessions they are most interested in. The seminars allow them to have an interactive experience of what jobs might involve; the opportunity to deepen their knowledge about the careers they are interested in; and ask questions to support their future choices.
A Sixth Form Information Evening is held in the autumn term when subject staff are available to discuss A level options with students. The implications of the transition to Sixth Form study are explored.
Every student has a personal interview with a member of the Senior Leadership Team, at which their options post-16 are discussed, in addition to any conversations they choose to have with their Tutor, Head of Year, Head of Sixth Form and Head of Careers.
Formal careers lessons continue, organised by the Head of Careers, as part of the PSHCE curriculum. These lessons happen after the Year 11 trial exams and are focused on preparing a CV and letters of application for work experience at the end of the summer term.
The School recognises that experience of, and specific training for, the environment of work are advantageous for students in that they help to develop employability skills such as communication, teamwork, punctuality, reliability, appropriate behaviour and appearance. Work experience also widens students’ understanding of the world of work, so as to inform future career decisions. It helps students to develop an understanding of key issues in the workplace such as health and safety, economic and business issues, environmental, moral and social issues and enhance personal and social development and citizenship.
Students are responsible for organising their own work experience placements over the summer holidays between the end of their GCSEs and the start of Sixth Form. Guidance on appropriate places to conduct work experience may be given by the Head of Careers and/or form tutors where necessary. In order to ensure that this is clear and to fulfil the School’s duty of care, the Head of Careers communicates in writing to parents/carers to reiterate that work experience placements are conducted at the parents’/carers’ own risk and also to advise that parents/carers satisfy themselves that the work experience placement is suitable and safe for their child. Parents/carers are requested to sign and return a form indicating their acknowledgement of this. The Head of Careers conducts an assembly in the spring term to explain to students the importance of undertaking work experience and the support that can be offered to them.
Higher Education Fair
A Higher Education Fair is held in the spring term, where universities and local school students are invited to attend. Year 11, 12 and 13 students explore their university options.
In November, students are off timetable for an afternoon to attend an employability workshop. This gives students a greater understanding of how to turn their skills and experiences into qualities that employers are looking for, as well as helping them to write their UCAS statements when applying for University. It includes a section outlining the key skills that employers are looking for when recruiting, some common CV mistakes and top tips to make their CV standout, as well as a discussion on how to sell themselves both on paper and at interview. It also covers key information on how to write a personal statement and useful interview techniques.
Higher education programme
The vast majority of students submit a UCAS form, either for immediate or deferred entry. A few apply direct for Art foundation courses, or to Music or Drama College. Further details are contained in the Higher Education Policy. The resources of the Careers Centre are available to support the application process. The Head of Careers offers guidance through a presentation on other options other than University including sponsored degrees, apprenticeships and work placements.
Medics, Dentists and Vets
A comprehensive programme of activities is provided for those students interested in applying for medicine, dentistry or veterinary science at university. Support is provided for admissions tests (UKCAT and BMAT) and specific advice is provided in terms of personal statements and UCAS applications.
A comprehensive programme of activities is provided for those students interested in applying for law at university. This provision is organised by the Deputy Head of Sixth Form. Support is provided in the form of a Law Society that meets to discuss and debate various matters that relate to the Law and also in bespoke preparation and advice for students in the application process, including advice on the required admissions tests.
In September 2019, Young Enterprise was replaced by the development of a SWPS MBA.
A workshop, utilising our link with BP at Sunbury, is attended by all students and centres on job application and interview training, conducted by BP managers. In addition, students will have guest speakers incorporated into their Life Skills programme run during PSHCE sessions. These speakers will discuss various career options that they have undertaken, often from past students. For example, a Clinical Scientist coming in to talk about other Medical related careers besides becoming a Doctor, and a former student from Sky discussing the role of women in technology working in IT careers.
All students take part in Centigrade testing in the autumn term. Centigrade is a higher education selection programme based on a specially designed questionnaire, which matches students' interests and abilities to a degree, foundation degree and HND course. The personalised feedback report helps students by highlighting a manageable number of courses where they seem to be well matched, and by challenging their choices when they may not be soundly based. It can reveal a wider potential for higher education and help students to complete their UCAS applications.
There is a Higher Education evening in the spring term for Lower Sixth students and their parents/carers and an in-house UCAS workshop, run by the Head of Sixth Form and supported by Sixth Form tutors in the summer term.
The Director of Academic Ambition coordinates the Oxbridge programme, which supports those students interested in applying for Oxford and Cambridge. The programme runs throughout the Sixth Form and involves meetings with students, specific Oxbridge training sessions, with then the detailed preparation for Oxbridge interviews devolved to individual departments.
Support continues for students applying to university and college, in line with the Higher Education Policy.
Advice about employment or training
Those few students not intending to apply to university or college are identified and advice and support is offered by the Head of Sixth Form and by specialist interviews with a careers consultant.
The school has established a partnership offering student discounts to attend external summer programmes in various industries such as Law, Medicine, Psychology, Business, Investment Banking and Engineering, as well as internship opportunities. They also come and run workshops with students discussing how to improve their chances of success in industry.
Links with industry
Various links with industry have been developed, to help students develop the skills required by the world of work: e.g. BP Links. The school has links with the Sunbury Research Centre. This provides a range of benefits – including access to material from BP via their School Educational Resources division, engagement with their STEM competitions (Go4Set) and special events such as the Lifeskills workshop described above.
Within the school there is a dedicated Careers Suite which comprises of 24 computers and a fully resourced library with a wide range of information on different careers, general career guidance and a comprehensive catalogue of up to date University prospectuses. The school also has access to a software programme called Probe which allows online questionnaire. All students have access to the Suite and the networked Higher Ideas and JED software accessible on all computers. The software allows students to generate ideas for careers based on their interests or subjects chosen, as well as giving them detailed information about the responsibilities, working conditions and pay of different jobs.
It also gives them guidance on how to get into that industry and the training required. Course ideas at University can also be generated, based on their interests and chosen subjects.