Tuesday 18th April 2006 by C. Freeman
Choosing which options to take, either at GCSE level or in further education is always a tricky choice but Brooke Weston students are now getting tailor-made advice courtesy of new computer software.
This is the first year that careers adviser, Andy Primmettt has used the 'Pathfinder' careers matching programme so that each student gets a print out of their strengths, weaknesses and suggested career options suited to their particular abilities. The advantage of this software is that the questions can be tailored to specific year groups or ability levels, giving finely-tuned results. Currently Year 9s and Year 12s are benefiting from the software but such has been the success of the scheme that future students and more year groups will get a chance to participate.
The Year 9s are seen as a key target group, because, as Andy explained: 'If you choose the wrong options at GCSE it can block off career routes later on. Every year I deal with Year 11 students and Sixth Formers who want to do certain things but can't because they've taken the wrong options. The aim of the programme is to really identify their key interests.'
We're not aiming to pin "job labels" on people, what we are trying to do for Year 9 students is to identify their key areas of interest so that they can select GCSE subjects that are broadly in line with them.
The Year 9 tutor groups were able to complete detailed computer-based questions such as: 'Would you like to write magazine articles?' or 'Would you like to calculate aircraft flight routes?' which are designed to identify students' interests in specific work activities and environments. They then answered supplementary questions on how health matters may affect their choice of work.
At the end of the session the computer package produces a bar chart reflecting the student's interests and suitability against six main work categories: science and technology, language and communication, creativity, business, engineering and social/people roles. It then produces a list of 20 jobs based on these criteria which may be researched in depth using the package's sophisticated job database. This list enables the student to 'broaden their thinking' and to consider jobs and careers they never knew existed.
'We're not aiming to pin "job labels" on people, what we are trying to do for Year 9 students is to identify their key areas of interest so that they can select GCSE subjects that are broadly in line with them. What we also need to remember is that around 40 per cent of students change their minds on careers, often dramatically, between Year 9 and
the time they reach the sixth form. This means that GCSE options must allow a degree of flexibility.'
Andy is happy to advise but reluctant to 'promote' any GCSE subjects in particular. However he suggests that business studies is always a sound choice as commercial awareness is a life-long skill in any type of organisation. 'Employers consistently rate this as one of their top requirements' he said.
Parents will get a chance to see their child's profile on the parents/options evening, so that they can discuss it with their children.
The software is also being used for the first time with the Sixth form (Year 12) but the questions are more detailed and Andy also has access to their GCSE results which also build up a more rounded picture of each student. He said: 'Because the sixth formers are thinking about universities we use this as a basis for our discussion.'
Work placements for Year 10 students wanted!
Work experience placements are getting harder to find, but the benefits to students of experiencing the world of work are as great as ever. Brooke Weston is appealing for parents who may be able to take their children into their own place of work for a week or two as all Year 10 students must complete two weeks of work experience.
Careers adviser, Andy Primmettt said: 'Over the last few years there has been a decline in the number of businesses able to take students. If employers could offer a placement to their employees' children then that would be a way of solving this shortfall.'
If anyone can offer a placement to a student then could then please get in touch with careers adviser, Andy Primmettt or Yvonne Jones, careers co-ordinator on 01536 396366 on Tuesdays or Fridays.