Lister Community School in Newham, London, takes a whole-school approach to employability, underpinned by Barclays LifeSkills.
“We’re confident we’ll hit the Gatsby Benchmarks, although we still have space to travel – eg. embedding careers lessons into the curriculum,” says assistant headteacher and nominated careers leader Simon Beck (pictured, left). “I’m fortunate to have a strong careers education team and the support of senior leadership.”
Careers interventions begin in Year 7 with a trip to West London-based work experience theme park, KidZania, where pupils do a variety of 20-minute jobs, earning currency that they can later spend in the shop. “It’s a fun day out and a good introduction to work, without the students even realising,” explains Beck.
Barclays LifeSkills forms a baseline for employability interventions from Year 8. “We’ve been using LifeSkills for four years through our super learning days, when (for three days a year), we collapse the timetable for every year group,” he says. “In Year 8, teachers lead sessions and show pupils how to use the resources, then we leave them to work through it. We’re trying to develop LifeSkills Ambassadors, to become a LifeSkills school.
“We also guarantee all Year 8 students a ‘careers insight visit’. “Through the East London Business Alliance, we have partner organisations in Canary Wharf and the City who host our students for a day. They’ll do an employability task, complementing LifeSkills work.”
World of Work Week
Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils take part in the Ryman National Enterprise Challenge addressing challenges set by real businesses, while Year 9s also have a university visit. But the school’s flagship programme sits in Year 10. “We have large year groups and couldn’t get quality work experience for all,” admits Beck.
“So we came up with our unique World of Work Week with the whole year-group off-timetable. Day one involves role plays with Actorshop around workplace behaviour and interviews, then mid-week, each student experiences a sector they’ve expressed interest in. For example: ‘A day in the life of a doctor at King’s College’.
We work with Young Enterprise
who, this year, brought 40 interns
from Goldman Sachs
All students also take part in a volunteering challenge at a local green space. “As well as giving back to the community it’s a hard day’s work (weeding, painting or making planters) – often the first they’ve ever had,” says Beck. “Initially, they moan and complain, but they’re always smiling at the end of the day; we never have drop outs!”
The final day is back in school. “We work with Young Enterprise who, this year, brought 40 interns from Goldman Sachs,” he explains. “Pupils spent the morning writing CVs, based on the week, and the interns conducted mock interviews.”
Careers guidance is front-loaded in Year 11, due to exam pressures. “We have assemblies every week for the first term with local colleges and training providers and, in December, our ‘Post-16 Pathways Day’ where providers talk students through school leavers’ programmes and apprenticeships, plus a careers fair where the colleges market their offers to students.”
Ironically, with so many careers inventions, it can be hard for students to recall them fully; to this end, the school has an online database that tracks what pupils have done around careers. “Students can print out a report of every careers intervention since they’ve walked through the door in Year 7,” says Beck.