The government’s new careers strategy requires the ‘Careers Leader’ to ‘work with subject teachers across the school so that careers provision is embedded within the curriculum’. This raises important questions about whether it is now sufficient to simply squeeze careers guidance into a mixture of drop-down days, packaged activities or a handful of PSHE lessons. Equally important, is careers any longer the role of an isolated champion in a school or is it now the shared responsibility of all teaching staff?
Talk about strategic plans with school leaders
There is no doubt that embedding careers within the curriculum is going to be the most challenging of the eight Gatsby benchmarks. It demands a change in mind set to develop and nurture internal capacity, rather than perpetuate a dependency on external CEIAG providers. Changing the culture of a school does not happen overnight. Teachers are increasingly pressurised to get through their curriculum content and focus on attainment. The last thing they want is something else that adds to their burden.
Clarify learning objectives with classroom teachers
Curriculum learning areas provide rich teaching and learning opportunities for career education. When career topics and concepts are highlighted within regular classroom teaching and learning, students develop their career management skills in meaningful contexts. So, what can you do? A planned and co-ordinated approach is needed if career education is to be included in the teaching and learning that happens in curriculum learning areas. It is important teachers are aware of their role within your school’s strategy and know how to use appropriate industry knowledge and resources. Consider the following:
- how teachers can be assisted to understand the aims and purposes of careers education
- which career management competencies can be addressed in specific classroom contexts
- when and how these competencies will be addressed
- how well the students' needs have been met
This does not mean that every teacher has to become a career specialist, but there is a strong case for encouraging teachers to have a greater awareness about the progression routes from their subject and to think about how they might be used in the world of work. Teachers can consider how a learning module can be adjusted or enlarged to include some relevant career education learning outcomes and how career concepts can be fore-grounded without detracting from their subject-specific aims. At its best this can inform the curriculum and inspire the creation of both career and subject-based learning opportunities.
Developing and Sharing
It is hard to do all this alone, so a few suggestions:
1. Establishing a careers steering group with representatives from faculties/departments will help you to:
- establish points of contact for subject specific careers work
- share and disseminate good practice
- plan CPD
- encourage faculties/departments to take responsibility for an element of your careers programme
- help students develop transferable skills in every lesson
- involve stakeholders in evaluation
2. Hosting training sessions will enable you to:
- ask teachers what they would like to be brought to life in their current subject teaching and how careers can enhance their delivery.
- combine Gatsby benchmark 4 (embed careers in the curriculum) and benchmark 5 (create multiple encounters with employers) to bring subject teaching to life in partnership with local employers. It can create a learning journey that both motivates students to see the purpose of classroom lessons and gives each child tasters of the wide range of opportunities that exist in life beyond school. This will also help you to deliver the target by 2020 of ‘offering every young person seven encounters with employers – at least one each year from years 7 to 13’.
- develop and demonstrate a programme of lesson plans for each subject incorporating both the use of online resources and local employers.
- create a series of exemplar curriculum projects covering a range of subjects to be shared with all teachers to show how their own classroom practice might be enhanced and enriched. See http://www.forum-talent-potential.org/good-practice/ for some examples of good practice.
4. Surveying your teachers and receiving feedback.
5. Briefing employers to ensure they have a clear rationale about why they have been approached to come in to subject lessons, what they are being asked to do and what might be in it for them.
This article has attempted to outline how a Careers Leader might work with subject teachers across a school to embed careers provision within the curriculum. What are your thoughts on this?