Future Careers grant "invaluable" as school delivers full progamme in lockdown
"The grant was absolutely invaluable...it meant we could deliver everything we wanted to deliver for students and parents and we also have a lot of things ahead in the pipeline."
A secondary school in Rugby has adapted to deliver its entire careers programme successfully online through the pandemic with the support of a grant from Warwickshire County Council.
Harris Church of England Academy, in Rugby, was one of 32 schools across the county which took up a Future Careers grant from the council's Warwickshire Skills Hub.
Secondary schools have faced significant challenges caused by the pandemic, and lockdowns in particular, in terms of equipping students with careers information and advice they need at such a vital time in their education.
However, supported by the £2,000 grant, and with enthusiastic backing from a broad range of local businesses, Harris CofE Academy has continued to engage fully with students and parents.
Andrea O'Brien, Careers Advisor at Harris CofE Academy, said: "It was a lot harder with all the restrictions, so the grant was absolutely invaluable. It meant we could deliver everything we wanted to deliver for students and parents and we also have a lot of things ahead in the pipeline.
"We used the grant in two ways. Part of it went towards funding my work for an extra two and a half hours a week. That really took the pressure off and enabled me to arrange things that I would have struggled to fit in alongside my other duties.
"The biggest thing was the mock interviews which we always do on site, but this year, of course, we had to go virtual first time. That took some organising but we had brilliant support from businesses - about 20 employers, both locally and some nationally, volunteered to support us.
"Some were from or existing contacts, some came from a shout out from the Careers Hub and some from our alumni and social media. We had a great range, from small, independent businesses to big businesses in all sorts of sectors, and the University of Warwick, which was brilliant.
"We interviewed 119 Year 11 students over two days and it was fantastic. Without the grant, it would have been pretty much impossible to arrange. Those extra hours made all the difference.
"The other part of the funding went on SchoolCloud, a software system which we used to hold a series of five parents' evenings, one for each year group, online. They were really successful in allowing us to talk to parents individually and we couldn't have done that without the grant."
Emma Neale, Schools and careers co-ordinator at Warwickshire Skills Hub, said: "The Harris CoE Academy has a really positive and proactive approach to careers strategy and I am delighted that the Future Careers grant has proved so beneficial to them. It is wonderful to hear about the great support they have received from local employers.
"This has been such a difficult time for careers leaders but, across the county, our schools have risen to the challenge and we will continue to do all we can to support them."
* For more information on Future Careers and all the other support available to schools and colleges from Warwickshire Skills Hub, please visit https://skillshub.warwickshire.gov.uk/