New research has today highlighted significant concern amongst both businesses and teachers about how prepared young people are for the world of work – particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The polling is released by education charity Teach First as it launches a new report, Rethinking Careers Education: Investing in Our Country’s Future. The report makes a series of recommendations on how improving careers education – and increasing business engagement with schools – can help level up opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The new research reveals that eight in 10 teachers (79%) believe their pupils are less ready for the world of work when compared to previous years, while more than half of teachers in schools with the most disadvantaged pupils (55%) believe the pandemic has negatively affected pupils’ perceptions of their career prospects.
Teach First also conducted a survey of over 500 HR decision makers from British businesses and found they share this concern, with over half (56%) saying they are concerned that ‘lost learning’ from the pandemic will exacerbate the skills shortage amongst pupils and students.
While grades are hugely important, the research suggests that other skills are also highly valued by employers. When asked to select the top three skills that they would consider most if recruiting young people, they were most likely to choose broader soft skills (69%), literacy and numeracy (54%), and digital and IT skills (48%). However, when asked to give their assessment of the preparedness of current school, college and university leavers, 72% of businesses said that they were concerned about their level of soft skills. They also reported concerns about the level of literacy and numeracy (68%) and digital and IT skills (52%).
In their new report Teach First argues in favour of a series of recommendations which they believe could make a tangible impact on young people’s employability. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) of teachers agreed that improved careers education would decrease the number of young people that end up classified as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).
Children on free school meals are currently twice as likely to be NEET at age 18-24 compared to those not (26% compared to 13%)[i].
To help tackle this, Teach First believe careers education needs to start at primary school level. Teachers agree, with seven in 10 (71%) primary schools teachers believing career-related learning for their pupils will raise their pupils’ awareness of different career pathways, and two-thirds (66%) said it will raise their aspiration.
The DfE recently made a welcome commitment for a new careers programme for primary schools in disadvantaged areas in the recent Schools White Paper. In order to be as effective as possible, Teach First wants the DfE to work with sector leaders and publish a framework for effective careers learning in primary schools based on the Gatsby benchmarks and pair this with a new fund that trains and supports primary teachers working in disadvantaged areas.
Based on their own experience of successfully training Career Leaders in secondary schools, Teach First estimate this would cost £8.5m to support the top 10% most disadvantaged primary schools by pupils’ free school meal eligibility – which is approximately 2,000 primary schools.
The report also calls for a series of other key recommendations, including:
Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said:
“Our country’s long-term prosperity depends on the next generation of young people. Careers education is an essential part of that – making a significant impact on a young person’s development at school, as well as their future employment opportunities. Schools do their best to prepare pupils for the world of work, but that is not their core purpose. That is why we believe it is essential that employers are involved in shaping the future of careers education.
“For too long, securing high quality careers advice and work experience has been a postcode lottery – that must change. With concerns over the cost-of-living crisis, and a potential recession later in the year, it’s vital that we do everything we can to give our young people the best possible chance to succeed and thrive in the world of work”.
Simon Wareham, Teach First Careers Leader & Assistant Principal at Southmoor Academy, said:
“To accommodate all our work, our careers education team has doubled in size. As school budgets are always limited, I work with our headteacher to adapt existing roles and school funding. We also rely on business partners to support with free resources, travel support and activities. Thankfully, many employers are invested in supporting our pupils and helping them to consider career options.
“Ultimately, all schools need to be equipped to provide their pupils with a complete education. We are passionate about making sure all of our pupils have the skills they need to be well prepared to go out and excel in the wider world.”
According to the ONS, between October and December 2021, 692,000 young people in the UK aged 16-24 were classified as NEET. At Unifrog, we work together with our partner schools across the UK to close the gap and raise aspirations, and this year we predict that we’ll prevent 4,200 students from becoming NEET across our partner schools.
Our mission has always been to level the playing field when it comes to young people finding the best opportunities for them, and our new data-driven approach to supporting schools has had a major impact on students’ next steps. We used the Education Endowment Foundation Family of Schools database to look at matched pairs of schools where one school was a Unifrog partner and one was not, and tracked them over 3 years to assess the impact Unifrog had on the number of NEET students.
Schools were matched based on:
Using this information, we can predict that 4,200 fewer students will become NEET this year, thanks to Unifrog.
What is Unifrog?
Unifrog is a one-stop careers platform designed for all students from KS3 to KS5. With over 650 career profiles and 100 subject profiles, students can explore different jobs, learn about the pathways that can get them there, and explore how their skills and interests might play into their future choices.
We also help students compare every opportunity - including colleges, sixth forms, apprenticeships, and universities in the UK and overseas - and support them in creating world class applications for those opportunities. Our aim isn’t just to close the gap, but to help every student find the best next step for them, whatever that might be.
Finally, we provide support for school and college staff to run a well-planned and well-executed careers strategy across all year groups with a dedicated series of lesson plans and activities to help them meet all Gatsby Benchmarks, with a focus on embedding careers in the curriculum (Gatsby Benchmark 4).
How does Unifrog help close the gap?
Because Unifrog supports students from Year 7, all students will have a clear and defined CEIAG journey meaning staff can check in on them and support them in finding their best next step even if it changes. We provide live reporting on CEIAG strategies allowing staff to tailor their CEIAG programme throughout the year to best provide for their students, and to target support for students who are not on track to meet their goals. Plus, we’re there every step of the way to suggest solutions and ideas to support staff with this.
We also use student and teacher feedback to ensure students are getting everything they need to make decisions about their futures and to build the skills and experiences they need to get there. For example, in a survey of over 6,000 of our users, students identified skills development as a key challenge during the pandemic. We used this to draw up recommendations for both partner and non-partner schools to share in our Insights report to make sure no student gets left behind.
Similarly, in a survey of 5,500 UK students in Y11-13, we found that when it comes to considering an apprenticeship, students identified ‘lack of encounters with employers’ as one of the main obstacles. Naturally we rose to the challenge, creating live, interactive webinars and Careers Fairs to provide students with encounters with employers wherever they are in the world. Teachers are able to use Unifrog to plan and track engagement with these types of encounters too, meaning they can spot where students are missing key careers education or target students for particular encounters, based on their intentions and career interests.
If you’re already a Unifrog partner, get in touch with your Area or Account Manager for support on embedding a careers curriculum that works for all your students and helps you achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks. If you’re not a partner yet and want more information, we’d love to hear from you; you can request a demo here.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced the launch of “NBA in the Classroom,” an NBA-themed educational programme that provides free, downloadable teaching materials for secondary school teachers in the UK that focuses on career development, financial management, mental wellbeing and physical education.
NBA in the Classroom, which was developed with input from teachers and is available to all secondary schools across the UK beginning today, offers a range of downloadable, flexible, curriculum-linked teaching resources for use in PE, PSHE/Health and Wellbeing, careers and/or personal development courses. Students will hear from current NBA players and employees on a variety of topics through video content containing tips, challenges and more.
“We are excited to unveil this original programme to help secondary school teachers in the UK educate and inspire students with interactive resources that can be used in a variety of settings,” said NBA Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations, Europe and Middle East, Neal Meyer. “Through ‘NBA in the Classroom,’ we look forward to collaborating with institutions and educators across the UK to help children develop their personal and professional skills and grow as leaders.”
Through a range of NBA-inspired challenges, the programme will help students be more active, harness a positive mental attitude, develop financial confidence and nurture skills that employers value, including creativity, numeracy, communication, teamwork and organisation. Resources can be downloaded and used as standalone lessons or personal development sessions and select resources can be combined into full off-timetable enrichment and personal development days or after-school club sessions.
Mr Leighton, PE teacher at Kettlethorpe High School, commented on the new resources saying: “At Kettlethorpe, it's our priority to bring new experiences to our students and engage them in creative ways. NBA in the Classroom fits the bill for this perfectly. Our students were intrigued to discover that there’s so much beyond just the game, from mental attitude to wide-ranging careers such as sports journalism, social media and physiotherapy. The programme is diverse and easy to add into lesson planning"
NBA in the Classroom builds on the league’s on-court youth development initiatives in the UK. In partnership with Basketball England, the NBA currently runs 21 Jr. NBA Leagues that reach 630 secondary schools and nearly 10,000 Year 7 and 8 children each year. In addition, the Jr. NBA basketballscotland League features seven leagues and a Jr. NBA Wheelchair Basketball League, while the Jr. NBA Basketball Wales League is currently running in each of Wales’s 22 local authorities.
Register to NBA in the Classroom for free today and receive a free digital poster and get access to a range of engaging, curriculum-linked resources that will equip your students with the tools they need for a brighter future.
The effects of the pandemic are felt by all, but the impact it has on the early careers market places significant pressure on the class of 2020, be that school leavers or graduates. Studies are already suggesting that young people will be worst impacted by the inevitable financial crisis; following the 2008 recession, unemployment among GCSE-level students peaked at 32.3%. With over 1 million young people expected to be unemployed in the wake of COVID-19 coupled with other coronavirus-related stresses, the anxiety all this brings upon students is also taking a toll on their mental health.
When I ask my Sixth Form students what they want to study at university or what they want to be later in life, I am often in for a surprise. Their answers often include degrees or professions that I had not heard of and could not have imagined even ten years ago. At this point I would like to make it clear that I am not old (obviously!), but that the world has been and is changing at a breakneck pace and it is hard to keep up with it.
Your own continuing professional development (CPD) is absolutely vital to you as a teacher. Working in education is not a job that you just turn up and ‘do’: with ever-changing examination specifications, curriculum re-mapping and emerging research that causes us to revisit the way in which we teach, you cannot afford to disregard the importance of self-investment.
But training costs, right? Wrong! Granted, the squeeze on budgets grows tighter by the year, and schools often look to larger organisations to host or run their INSET, but this often has a whole-school focus, which may not always completely match up to or accommodate for your own professional development goals. However, there are a range of time-effective approaches that you can use to direct your own professional development this year.
Read for impact
I aim to read a small number of books with an educational focus each year, and this number has lessened with each year that I teach. I also look back and feel that perhaps a great deal of what I have read was simply wasted time. Why? I was not as focused, and I didn’t embed certain ideals or concepts within my own teaching as a result. In addition, some of the books that I picked up were perhaps not relevant to my role at the time. For instance, reading a book about leadership may be interesting at best, but if leadership is not an area that I want to pursue in the near future, is that the best way to spend my time?
Meek's take on reading is fascinating. Would be brilliant to collate a list of books based upon narrative experimentation for this alone: pic.twitter.com/aVr5LEpcvD— Kat Howard (@SaysMiss) February 15, 2017
Now, I try to use two strategies when selecting reading for professional development: What is the focus? How will I use it? Read with a specific aspect of your teaching that you want to improve upon in mind or become more informed towards. Consequently, consider the practical ways that you will implement what you have read. This doesn’t need to be a monumental change; it may simply be a resource created that uses a particular model. Evidenced-based teaching need not be a laborious piece of action research, but can just take the shape of trying something out then reflecting upon it afterwards. You will find that you have made the purpose of your reading meaningful, additionally weighing up how effective it is on a day-to-day basis within your practice.
When seeking out ways to improve as an English teacher, particularly when it comes to subject knowledge, I have found a secret treasure-trove of outlets locally to assist me. From visiting National Trust properties for contextual knowledge, to public lectures at local universities to broaden my authorial understanding, there are a range of ways to grow your learning bank without straying far from home or attending a large, costly conference.
Over and above that, setting up visits to local schools is a fantastic approach to specific CPD that will reap reward in both budget and time; in my experience, the professional discussions and relationships that evolve from such visits are so valuable. You may go with a particular focus related to the professional goals outlined by yourself at the start of the year, and walk away with so much more than that, with someone at the end of an email for guidance and support to boot.
Build a network
Working as a teacher lends itself easily to working in isolation: losing your days to planning, teaching and marking, with the interactions with colleagues being brief greetings in the corridor or directed meetings that have a specific agenda. However, collaboration is key to successful to personal progression, and if you have a particular goal in mind for the year ahead, share it with those around you. This will act as a starting point to exploring if others would like to team up in working on a project or research over the year ahead.
Collaboration will save the teaching profession! More here ⬇️ https://t.co/FIiqNlu3JK— Kat Howard (@SaysMiss) July 20, 2018
For example, as an English teacher, I enjoy connecting with Maths or ICT teachers when piloting a new idea; usually because their skills are useful, but to have a cross-curricular view of how a strategy or approach would work outside of my own subject is really beneficial when evaluating.
Alternatively, you may coordinate a whole-school role and would like to support in how others in a similar role approach certain challenges or obstacles. Twitter was a fantastic place to seek out other literacy coordinators when I first took up the post; sharing action plans or discussing how we could collaboratively work on initiatives was fantastic for time-saving, mutually advantageous CPD.
Source a coach - and coach in return!
Peer coaching is quite possibly the most valuable method of professional development that I have undertaken during my time as a teacher. As a result of the fantastic coaching provision that the MTPT Project provided to me during my maternity leave, I am nearing the end of my first year as a coachee and will shortly receive accreditation that I can then use to direct appraisal discussion for this year. When setting up LitdriveCPD, a free coaching tool for the approaching academic year, my inbox was full of nervous-yet-enthusiastic teachers, excited and willing to sign up but worried that they didn’t have the required skills. Yet, as teachers, we coach every day: students, feedback provided to colleagues, ourselves even.
Find someone, either within your own school or one that you may network with locally, and see if they would be interested in informal peer coaching for the year. This could simply be three discussions over the year, with the focus upon you both forming your own goals, then exploring how you may work towards achieving them. The coaching role could be as detached or involved as both parties feel is necessary or appropriate, but the process of sounding out ideas with someone else working within the teaching profession could be really powerful to aid both your growth as a teacher, but someone else’s as well.
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I write this at the start of April, whilst enjoying a view some may call “paradise”: sat on Long Beach, in Pulau Perhentian Kecil, with the South China Sea lapping up against my toes. It’s been a well-needed ‘switch off’ after the last three-to-six months (the last three in particular). The added benefit of five days without working WiFi was not lost on me. Whilst naturally there were those who worried about my radio silence, being blissfully ignorant of literally everything going on outside of a 1km stretch of beach has been quite refreshing! So how has this benefited me as an international educator?