While academic support is considered a priority for all pupils, we firmly believe in supporting the whole of a student’s learning experience and helping each pupil achieve their full potential. Our careers provision is central to this, as we aim to:
- Ensure that pupils are fully informed about the wide range of career options open to them, and how the evolving job market will affect these.
- Identify what pupils enjoy, are good at and would like to be doing in the future.
- Help them evaluate the different opportunities they have, whether they want to attend university, take a vocational course leading to a career, or go straight into an apprenticeship or employment.
- Help pupils develop the transferable skills (such as problem solving, independence, resilience, communication and creativity) that will support their aspirations.
The Ashford School Learning Habits lay the foundation for success not just at school but beyond, and there are many other aspects of school life that feed into students’ career preparation. In their subject lessons, pupils are exposed to real world applications of their academic studies and learn how these connect with future careers. The PSHE curriculum includes specific careers lessons, but also provides many opportunities for pupils to develop their employability skills, as does the wide-ranging co-curricular programme.
Our Head of Higher Education and Careers, Dr Kirsten Dickers, is employed full-time to support pupils with career planning, university and job applications, whether they wish to study and work in the UK or overseas. Dr Dickers runs a programme of careers provision throughout the school, starting in Year 7 and building year on year to help each pupil find the right pathway.
The Careers Programme
Our careers programme has been developed with reference to the Gatsby Benchmarks for good career guidance, adapted to meet the requirements of our unique school community. All pupils receive the following elements:
Annual Oxbridge Trip
Each year, Dr Dickers organises a trip to either Oxford or Cambridge to help students in Years 11 and 12 learn more about these institutions. The trip is open to high achieving students who are interested in learning more about the unique features of these universities. The day includes a tour of the city, a visit to one of the colleges, an academic workshop in one of the university museums and an opportunity for students to explore independently.
This year, we visited Cambridge and had a tour of Sidney Sussex College (including seeing where Oliver Cromwell’s head is buried). Dr Dickers showed students some of the key sights in Cambridge, including the Senate House, where degree ceremonies take place, the location of the original Physics department where JJ Thompson discovered the electron, the Eagle pub where Crick and Watson announced the structure of DNA, and the college Backs. We also visited the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for a tour and fascinating discussion of topics such as the purpose of museums and issues surrounding repatriation.
Throughout the year, we organise a series of lunchtime talks by external speakers, covering career options, university degrees and specific subject areas. These are organised to ensure that pupils have the opportunity to hear from subject and career specialists and ask questions about their area of expertise. To achieve this, we benefit from our links with many universities and from our alumni and parent networks. In recent years, we hosted talks on:
- Studying at Oxford and Cambridge (Cambridge University)
- Sports degrees and careers (Cardiff Metropolitan University)
- Why study the humanities? (New College of the Humanities)
- Studying in Canada (University of British Columbia)
- Apprenticeship opportunities in the UK (CXK – Apprenticeship Support Organisation)
- Careers in Law (a Managing Partner from Hogan Lovells)
- Careers in Diplomacy (an alumna working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Careers information for parents
Dr Dickers writes a monthly careers newsletter that is sent to all parents. This gives an overview of the careers programme and what has been happening in school, and also gives details of upcoming university open days, conferences, apprenticeships and other job opportunities. Past newsletters are available here:
HE and Careers Bulletin April 2023
HE and Careers Bulletin May 2023
HE and Careers Bulletin June 2023
HE and Careers Bulletin September 2023
HE and Careers Bulletin October 2023
HE and Careers Bulletin November 2023
Our next University and Careers Fair will be in March 2024. This provides an opportunity for pupils to meet university representatives, employers, apprenticeship and gap year organisations.