Post 16 evening at SHS

The annual careers event for Years 10 and 11 was held on 10 October. Around 160 pupils and parents attended to talk to the 21 different organisations represented.

The ‘next stage’ can be a daunting prospect made more apparent by the changing school leaving age. From September 2013 all pupils must stay in education or training until at least 17 years and from 2014 it will be 18 years. Most pupils do this already and as college courses and apprenticeship training qualifies – so very few currently fall into the NEET category (Not in Education, Employment or Training). As Stradbroke does not have its own sixth form, pupils are ‘freer’ to choose different directions after sixteen. Some “just stay on at school” without thinking clearly and fully assessing the available routes forward.

At the evening,  the local sixth forms (Hartismere, Thomas Mills and Bungay were there) representing the solid and popular next step but equally interesting were the colleges who offer more focussed training (Otley/Easton, West Suffolk, Ipswich New College, Access to Music). It was also good to see a local university – University College Suffolk (UCS) – there giving advice about the step after. With the increases in university fees it is likely that more students will opt for local higher education and stay at home to save money, and so avoid some of the loan build up.

The most impressive element of the evening – and one of the most popular – was the range of organisations offering and advising on apprenticeship and sponsorship schemes. As usual the Services – the Army and Navy  - were there, and can always offer a massive range of skills training, but are not everyone’s idea of a career route. British Telecom, who may be hated by some for their phone lines (which apparently is only 5% of their business), offer well respected apprenticeships and high quality training at all entry levels. Sizewell/EDF had a strong presence discussing their apprenticeship schemes which send 16/17 year olds off to their training facility in Portsmouth. Ensors, the regional accountancy firm had a stand, encouraging our pupils to consider accountancy as a sensible route into management in many industries.

Several other independent tables were attended by STEM ambassadors. These are volunteers from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths industries who give up their time to encourage students to move into these very important sectors, which are sadly low on take up. We had representatives from Pharmaceuticals, Construction and Design (Morgan Sindall), Graphics (Today Type and Design) and Entrepreneurial Consultancy (Little Bird).

All round this was a great evening – pupils and parents were given the opportunity to discuss and gather information about a host of possible and exciting career routes.

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