Careers

Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance

Preparation for employment is an integral part of everything we do at The Downs School. Whether they eventually go on to further or higher education, employment or self-employment once they leave us, we want their time at The Downs School to have provided them with the skills and knowledge to make the choices that are best for them.

Careers Programme

Through our Careers Programme we provide the best possible careers education, information, advice and guidance to all our students in line including:

  • up-to-date information about the local employment market;
  • independent and impartial careers guidance;
  • opportunities to meet employers and for work experience;
  • curriculum links to real-world careers;
  • information on all post-16 options (apprenticeships as well as further education); and
  • CV and application advice.

Careers Information

In this section you will find lots of useful information and links to the careers information available to students at The Downs School. It includes:

  • Resources for students
  • Resources for parents/carers - How you can help students to prepare for life after The Downs School.
  • Resources for employers - How you can help The Downs School students and reach the talent of the future.

IIC New ImageThe school currently holds Investors in Careers accreditation, a nationally-validated quality mark that is awarded to schools and colleges in recognition of the excellence of their careers work.  http://www.investorincareers.org.uk/

This was first awarded in 2016, and re-accredited in November 2019, when the school was assessed as fully meeting all the accreditation criteria incorporating the Gatsby Benchmarks.

 

The school employs a dedicated Careers Lead, Mrs Penny Allum.  For information and guidance on careers related matters, she can be contacted:

By email: careers@thedownsschool.org

By telephone: 01635 270080

Careers Programme

Overview

At The Downs School we place a great emphasis on our students having a programme that ensures they are well equipped for moving into the appropriate further education, apprenticeship or workplace.  This starts as soon as the arrive at school in Year 7.  We make every effort to ensure all our students are on the right pathway suitable for their particular skill set and this is done through a rigorous programme and focus on careers throughout their school life.

Careers Leader: Mrs P Allum.

PDP Programme Leader: Mrs R Bailey.

We are constantly reviewing and improving our careers education and guidance in line with the Gatsby benchmarks.  This programme will be reviewed on an annual basis; the next review will be in July 2020.

The impact of the Careers Programme will be assessed through student evaluation on individual events and a general careers assessment questionnaire used at key transition points.  An initial assessment will take place at the start of Year 7.

Year 7 Careers Entitlement

  • Students are introduced to the careers resources, in particular “Grofar” and “eClips”, and informed how to use them.
  • Grofar Student Passports are created on which academic progress and notes from careers sessions are recorded.
  • Students can access careers advice through the Careers Leader.
  • In either Year 7 or Year 8, students will participate in “Exploring Your Future”, where a range of employers will bring various interactive activities for students to participate in (biannual event).
  • Students will have the opportunity to engage with local employers during assemblies and workshops.
  • Students will have access to local employers through interest talks, including an Apprenticeship Awareness Event.
  • Through the Personal Development Programme students will start to consider what their future career will look like based on their interests and abilities, and what skills they need to get there.

Year 8 Careers Entitlement

  • Students develop their use of the career resources available in school, in particular “Grofar” and “eClips”.
  • Academic and careers progress is recorded on Student Passport.
  • Students can access careers advice through the Careers Leader.
  • In either Year 7 or Year 8, students will participate in “Exploring Your Future”, where a range of employers will bring various interactive activities for students to participate in (biannual event).
  • Students will have the opportunity to engage with local employers during assemblies and workshops.
  • Students will have access to local employers through interest talks, including an Apprenticeship Awareness Event.
  • Through the Personal Development Programme students will build on personal strengths and begin to link skills to specific careers, enabling realistic and informed decisions using labour market information.

Year 9 Careers Entitlement

  • Students develop their use of the career resources available in school, in particular “Grofar” and “eClips”.
  • Academic and careers progress is recorded on Student Passport.
  • Students can access careers advice through the Careers Leader.
  • Students will relate potential GCSE/BTEC option choices to the World of Work, meeting business volunteers who will talk about how different subject choices have helped them with their careers.
  • Students will have the opportunity to talk to Year 11 students about Key Stage 4 option choices.
  • Students will have access to local employers through interest talks, including an Apprenticeship Awareness Event.
  • Through the Personal Development Programme students will build on personal strengths and begin to link skills to specific careers enabling realistic and informed decisions at transition stages. Students will be encouraged to challenge stereotypes within the world of work and traditional job roles.

Year 10 Careers Entitlement

  • Students develop their use of the career resources available in school, in particular “Grofar” and “eClips”.
  • Academic and careers progress is recorded on Student Passport.
  • Students can access careers advice through the Careers Leader.  Towards the end of the year some students will start to have group career interviews with Activate Learning, an independent and impartial careers advice service.
  • Students will participate in a “Careers Day”, which will include activities with business volunteers such as “Speedy Careers”, training/work skills speakers and an interview workshop.
  • Students will have access to local employers through interest talks, including an Apprenticeship Awareness Event.
  • Through the Personal Development Programme students will review their skills and interests and link these to career choices, start to plan next steps and produce a CV.
  • Students will be allocated two days to undertake work shadowing.
  • Students can apply to undertake the Morrisby Profile, a psychometric assessment designed to assist with career choices.

Year 11 Careers Entitlement

  • Students develop their use of the career resources available in school, in particular “Grofar” and “eClips”.
  • Academic and careers progress is recorded on Student Passport.
  • Students can access careers advice through the Careers Leader.  Before leaving school, every student will have attended with an individual or group career interviews with Activate Learning, an independent and impartial careers advice service.
  • Students will have access to local employers through interest talks, including an Apprenticeship Awareness Event.
  • Through the Personal Development Programme students will finalise potential options for after Year 11 and improve their study skills.
  • Students will be introduced to Unifrog and start to use this to assist with their Post-16 option choices.
  • Students are helped with post 16 choices and encouraged to consider all their options including further study in 6th form and apprenticeships. Speakers from the school 6th Form, local colleges and companies will speak to students during assemblies about potential options. Destinations are discussed during a Careers Mentoring Day.
  • Students will have the opportunity to talk to Year 13 students, and those who have recently left The Downs School, about A Level/vocational courses and alternative options.
  • Students will participate in 6th Form Taster sessions, focussed on subjects only available in the 6th Form.
  • Students planning to attend college after Year 11 will have support to complete application forms and the opportunity to visit Newbury College.
  • Students are encouraged to attend careers talks, fairs, college open days and taster days with employers.
  • Students are kept up to date with post 16 deadlines.

Year 12 Careers Entitlement

  • Students will have access to local employers through interest talks, including an Apprenticeship Awareness Event.
  • All students will attend an all-day Work Skills Insight Event at Vodafone HQ.
  • Students will start to use “Unifrog” to develop their future planning and University/Apprenticeship applications.
  • Students will attend a variety of talks by local employers during assemblies and the Personal Development Programme.
  • Students are given specific help with preparing UCAS/applying for apprenticeships.
  • Students will attend “After 18, Your Next Step”, which will include talks/workshops on the variety of options available after leaving school, including University, Apprenticeships and Gap years.  The sessions will be run by Employers and past students.
  • Students are encouraged to attend university open days, mock interviews, careers interviews and meet potential employers to discuss future options.
  • Students can access careers advice through the Careers Leader.  Towards the end of the year some students will start to have group career interviews with the careers Leader to discuss future options.
  • Students will have the opportunity to attend “Broaden Your Horizons”, a careers fair hosted by Bradfield College.
  • Students can apply to undertake the Morrisby or Cambridge Profiles, psychometric assessment tools to assist with career choices.
  • Students given support and encouragement to undertake a Work Experience Placement (may be completed in Year 13).

Year 13 Careers Entitlement

  • Students will have access to local employers through interest talks, including an Apprenticeship Awareness Event.
  • Students develop their use of “Unifrog” to finalise their future planning and University/Apprenticeship applications.
  • Students will attend a variety of talks by local employers during assemblies and the Personal Development Programme.
  • Students are given specific help from 6th Form staff with preparing UCAS/applying for apprenticeships.
  • Students are encouraged to attend university open days, mock interviews, careers interviews and meet potential employers to discuss future options.
  • Students can access careers advice through the Careers Leader.  At the start of the year careers advice interviews will be offered to students requiring further support with their Post 18 choices.
  • Students have the opportunity to attend an apprenticeship mock assessment centre.

 

Resources for Students

The decisions you make from an early stage at school can have a big impact on your future career choices and happiness.  It therefore makes sense to start thinking about your future as soon as possible.

Remember, exploring and understanding your future options is a key part of preparing yourself for success: there is lots of support available so make the most of the careers opportunities provided.

The kind of questions you will be asked to think about.

There is life after school.  To prepare for it, there are a number of questions you will be encouraged to think about whilst you are at The Downs School. The answers you come up with to these questions will inform your subject choices for GCSE and 6th Form, and what you choose to do when your leave school.

  • What are you most interested in? What do you like doing?
  • What are you best at? What skills do you have?
  • What sorts of careers interest you? What do they involve? What skills and qualifications do they require?
  • What can you do to find out more about careers that interest you?
  • What can you do whilst at school to make future employers more likely to hire you?

What help you can expect whilst at The Downs?

All students at The Downs School are entitled to have access to careers guidance from Year 8 up until the age of 18.

  • We provide impartial and independent careers guidance which includes a range of careers-related activities.
  • We help you to meet with local employers/work-based education and apprenticeship providers, to gain valuable work experience and insight to the world of work.

Students can arrange a Careers Interview by initially contacting Mrs Allum. This will be a one-to-one interview in person, either with Mrs Allum or an external careers advisor, depending on the student’s requirements.

The Grofar Careers Platform.

The school uses the Grofar careers platform to help students get the best out of our Careers Programme.  All students have an account on the platform which they can use to track their career activities during their time at The Downs School.  Grofar offers:

  • The Student Passport builds through the whole time at school with annual action plans and the ability to log careers activity, attendance at events and the results of careers guidance meetings.
  • Employability Skills: Skills are at the heart of the student passport with tools for students to reflect on their skills and learning as well as the ability to log skills as they are developed or required.
  • Careers Resources: Grofar provides a complete library for students to access containing over 60 resources.

Choosing GCSE and A levels.

When choosing GCSE and A level options, having at least some idea what sort of careers you might be interested in can be very helpful.  When deciding which subjects to study it is important that you do your research as some careers will require you to gain specific qualifications.

The school will provide you with plenty of support when it comes to making your choices.  There are also lots of sources of information available online.

Apprenticeships.

The school’s Careers Programme will provide all students with an understanding of Apprenticeships and advice on how to explore the opportunities they offer as a post-16 option.

An apprenticeship is a real job with training which would allow you to earn while you learn, whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification. Apprenticeships take between one and five years to complete and are available in 1,500 occupations across 170 industries varying from construction to manufacturing through to IT and the creative and digital sectors.

There are various levels of apprenticeship you could apply for depending on your interests, current skills and qualifications.

Apprenticeship Level

Educational level

Intermediate

5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C

Advanced

2 A level passes

Higher

Foundation degree and above

Degree

Bachelor’s or master’s degree

 

All apprenticeships will include elements of on the job and off the job training leading to industry recognised standards or qualifications. Some apprenticeships will require an assessment at the end of the programme to assess the apprentice`s ability and competence in their job role.

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16, living in England. There are different entry requirements depending on the sector and job.

Work experience at the Downs School.

Work experience is a fantastic way to learn new skills, see what a real workplace is like and gain confidence. It also gives you the edge when it comes to applying for jobs.

"All employers appreciate applicants who have a range of work experience, whether voluntary or paid, part-time or full-time, directly relevant or not.  At the most fundamental level, it helps demonstrate an understanding of the world of work, a desire to learn and develop through new experience, and an ability to take on responsibilities."

Andrew Ward, Enterprise Adviser & Director, Optimum Advisory Limited.

All students in Year 10 will undertake Work Shadowing, accompanying a relative or family friend to their place of work.  The fundamental reasoning behind this programme is to introduce the wide and varied range of skills required for working life to students, and to boost their confidence in practical and social skills.  We see this as an invaluable opportunity for the student’s personal development and it will help them realise the value of the skills they are learning in the classroom.

6th Form students will be given advice and support to gain work experience placements. It is expected that every 6th Form student will undertake a Work Experience Placement.

Want to find out more about careers?

There are lots of excellent free destinations that offer extensive information and guidance to help you think about future jobs.  Some of the best are listed in the Useful Careers Websites section.

  • General, all-purpose careers sites with a wide range of advice and links;
  • Careers quizzes to help you explore what careers might best suit you;
  • Careers Information & Job Profiles;
  • Information about Apprenticeships and current vacancies;
  • Higher Education & University courses & information;
  • Work Experience & Volunteering opportunities;
  • Guidance on writing a CV; and
  • Guidance on interview technique

Resources for Parents/Carers

The decisions young people make from an early stage at school can have a big impact on their future career choices and happiness. Parents and carers have a vital role to play in this career journey.

Guide for Parents/Carers.

We have created a guide designed to provide an overview of how you, as parents/carers, can help support your student with these important choices.  Please click here for the information.

Volunteering - The Downs School Careers Network.

The Downs School Careers Network is a key element of the Careers Programme at The Downs School.  The Careers Network brings together individuals and organisations outside the school – parents, alumni, and local employers – who want to support students at The Downs School.

If you’d like to join the Careers Network and support students at The Downs School, or if you’d like to explore other ways you or your employer could help, please contact the school’s Careers Lead, Mrs. Penny Allum: careers@thedownsschool.org

Please use the following link to the Careers Network: https://links.grofar.com/6004-fqmWo5

 

Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships provide young people with a wide range of opportunities, but understanding recent developments can be confusing.  For further information, see the Parents Guide on Apprenticeships document.

Resources for Employers

Key benefits for your organisation.

Supporting careers education for students at The Downs School can be personally rewarding.  But it can also have concrete advantages for your business.

  • Ensuring that the future generation of professionals are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of the requirements of your industry.
  • Having first hand knowledge of and direct access to potential future employees.
  • Developing your own staff, by providing them with opportunities to develop, mentor and coach the future generation.

How you can help.

There are a range of very practical ways employers can support careers education.  These include:

  • employer mentoring
  • enterprise competitions
  • 1-2 week work experiences
  • careers talks, fairs
  • CV workshops
  • mock interviews
  • work-related learning provided in cooperation with employers
  • employer delivered employability skills workshops
  • workplace visits
  • volunteering

The CBI and the Careers & Enterprise Company have produced a very helpful guide for employers who want to engage with schools https://www.careersandenterprise.co.uk/sites/default/files/uploaded/careers-enterprise-cbi-employers-guide-schools-v2.pdf

Getting involved – The Downs School Careers Network.

The Downs School Careers Network is a key element of the Careers Programme at The Downs School.  The Careers Network brings together individuals and organisations outside the school – parents, alumni, and local employers – who want to support students at the Downs.

If you’d like to join the Careers Network and support students at the Downs, or if you’d like to explore other ways you or your employer could help, please contact the school’s Careers Lead, Mrs. Penny Allum: careers@thedownsschool.org

Useful Careers Websites

Where to get advice:

Careers Information & Job Profiles:

Careers quizzes:

Local and National Courses:

 

Activities & volunteering:

  • http://www.do-it.org.uk – search for local volunteering & work experience opportunities

     

    Funding & money matters:

The Downs School Careers Network

The Downs School Careers Network is a key element of the Careers Programme at The Downs School.  The Careers Network brings together individuals and organisations outside the school – parents, alumni, and local employers – who want to support students at The Downs School.

Goal

The primary aim of the Network is to:

  • increase access to careers-related experiences for students of all ages by deepening engagement with parents, and alumni and, through them, their employers;
  • to help teachers to continue the development of the links between subject skills/experiences and careers learning through access to business volunteers.

Volunteers

The Network is run by the school’s Careers Lead, Penny Allum, but depends on volunteers willing to offer their time and expertise to enhance the career advice and guidance available to students at The Downs School.

Volunteers can support the students by, for example,

  • sharing their own experiences at Careers Fairs and related events;
  • helping with CV feedback and interview practice;
  • offering work experience opportunities; and
  • helping teachers introduce career-related case studies, projects and experiences into their lessons;

If you’d like to join the Careers Network and support students at The Downs School, or if you’d like to explore other ways you or your employer could help, please contact the school’s Careers Lead, Penny Allum: careers@thedownsschool.org

Link to join the Careers Network: https://links.grofar.com/6004-fqmWo5

Local Labour Market Information

It is difficult to predict the future employment landscape. Awareness of local labour market intelligence – which roles and skills are most in demand locally now and which will be in the future -  can help us understand the skills, qualifications and wider attributes that are needed for the future in the areas where we live.

Economies and policies change – so do students’ aspirations and circumstances – so it is also important that the range of skills and attributes developed are transferrable and will enhance everyone’s lifelong employability.

Labour market information (LMI) is published by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.  It can help students and their parents understand the local job market.

To view the local labour market information Presentation please see the attachments Local Labour Market Information for Schools and Career Opportunities in Berkshire.

Students can also use e-Clips (http://www.eclips-online.co.uk/)  to find out information about specific career pathways – password is available to all students in school.

Recent Careers Events

Autumn Term 2019.

This term the school achieved re-accreditation of its Careers Quality Mark through Investors in Careers, a nationally-validated quality mark that is awarded to schools and colleges in recognition of the excellence of their careers work.  The school was assessed as fully meeting all the accreditation criteria incorporating the standards identified in the Gatsby Benchmarks. This achievement demonstrates the ongoing commitment of the school to ensure every student receives the best possible Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) to prepare them for their future.

The award included external assessments by a registered assessor.  During the final assessment the school was praised for a number of strengths including:

  • Very effective communication strategies and close teamwork which underpin excellent coherence.
  • The Senior Leadership Team and Careers Leader have worked very hard to ensure that there is a whole school ethos of 'careers being everyone's responsibility' whilst the Careers Leader holds a watching brief and provides effective support.
  • The strong support of both Governors and Senior Leadership Team have resulted in careers work being valued by staff, parents and students alike.

To hear more about the careers events students are undertaking, please follow our Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

Gatsby Benchmark 1.  A stable careers programme.

The school continues to deliver the Careers Programme that is in place for all students at the school.  This is demonstrated by the wide range of activities that have taken place during the Autumn Term 2019.

Gatsby Benchmark 2. Learning from career and labour market information.

Career and Labour Market Information is incorporated into the Personal Development Programme (PDP).  Using eClips, one of the school’s careers on-line support packages, Year 9 students considered the impact that the labour market can have on potential career opportunities that they are interested in. 

Gatsby Benchmark 3. Addressing the needs of each student.

Students are encouraged to use the on-line careers resources available to them.  On the November PDP Day, Year 11 were introduced to Unifrog, the programme used extensively in the 6th Form to research University and Apprenticeship options.  They were shown how to use the Careers, Subjects and Know How Libraries to start refining their Post-16 choices. 

All students have an individual Grofar account, where they are able to keep an updated record of all careers related activities and develop a careers action plan.  Year 7 students were all introduced to this on the November PDP day and, like all students in the school, can now access this whenever they want.  Year 9 students had the opportunity to update their action plans on Grofar and started GCSE option research using eClips, during a careers event at the start of December.

Gatsby Benchmark 4. Linking curriculum learning to careers.

Throughout the year, each subject has a week where the focus in on careers within the subject area, this term saw both Science and Modern Foreign Languages Subject Weeks.  In Languages this included Year 8 looking at the advantages of studying languages, while in Year 11 there was a “Quiz the teacher” session around careers in languages.  During these weeks we also encourage external visitors to come and talk to subject classes.  For example, in Science, a former student who is now working as a Clinical Psychologist for the NHS, talked to Year 13 Psychology students about her time at University studying Psychology and her career now.

Gatsby Benchmark 5. Encounters with employers and employees.

A large number of students have had the opportunity to hear from, and work with, a range of local employers:

PDP Day. There was an emphasis on Careers for our Year 10 students on PDP Day. As part of the day, students were visited by local employers, university and apprenticeship representatives.

The Year 10 students’ focus was on their future careers and employability skills. A range of volunteers from local industry took part in a ‘speedy careers’ event.  Students also had talks from Westcoast Ltd on “What Employers Want”, Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools and Colleges (ASK), and a representative from Reading University. Education Business Partnership (EBP) provided an interview workshop, helping students to not only prepare well but perform well in interviews.

On the same day, all Year 12 students took part in a Financial Awareness Workshop led by EBP and supported by local business volunteers.

Any Year 13 students looking for apprenticeships after taking their A Level and BTEC exams next summer, were building on previous in-school careers workshops focussed on writing CVs and interview skills. Newbury based company Amberjack, experts in future talent and volume recruitment outsourcing, devised a mock assessment centre where students worked together in teams, undertaking face-to-face interviews and then critiquing each other’s performance.

ASK involved students in the increasingly popular recruitment method of video interviewing. Students were asked how best to prepare themselves; from being dressed correctly to responding to interview questions within a set time frame. After lunch students had an individual mock interview with representatives of Telefonica and BMW Mini.

Year 8 Hi-Tech Horizons.  All students in Year 8 had the opportunity to participate in a workshop about Careers in the Space Industry.  Education Business Partnership’s flagship programme aims to bring businesses into schools to showcase hi-tech careers that students might not have considered, working with 50,000 students in 5 years.  These workshops were run by the Space Store and provided students with information on the wide range of careers in the space industry and the chance to experience Augmented Reality.

Assembly speaker. Year 13 students heard from local employer Cornerstone during an assembly. Cornerstone is the UK’s Largest, Leading Mobile Infrastructure Company and looking to recruit apprentices locally next year.

Year 9 event. Ahead of the GCSE Option process in January 2020, Year 9 students took part in a careers event designed to help them start to think about the link between subjects and careers.  Students participated in a Q&A session, with a panel made up of business professionals from different industry sectors, including law, engineering and performing arts. 

Students then had the opportunity to talk to the volunteers in a smaller group. 

Developing Life Skills Workshop. A group of Year 9 and 10 students took part in a developing skills workshop in November, facilitated by staff from The Watermill Theatre and Education Business Partnership.  The workshop aimed to increase work/life skills and help students to recognize their own strengths and abilities, preparing them for the workplace in the future.  The session covered teamwork, voice impact, positive thinking and presenting.

Apprenticeship Awareness Evening. A highly successful evening saw over a hundred parents and students attend a talk by Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools and Colleges (ASK) about what apprenticeships are and the opportunities available to young people today.  After this, those present had the opportunity to talk to local organisations who had attended, these were; the Army, Basingstoke College of Technology, Bowmer & Kirkland, Cisco, UKAEA Culham, Sodexo, STFC, Telefonica and XTrac Ltd.  Among those coming to talk about opportunities at the companies they work for were former students who are now undertaking successful apprenticeships with local employers.

Gatsby Benchmark 6. Experiences of Workplaces.

A vital element for students is to have meaningful experiences of the work place.  This term as number of students have had the opportunity to visit local companies either for day visits or longer work experience opportunities:

Year 11 Westcoast visit. Students who had not had the opportunity to undertake work shadowing in Year 10 spent the day with our Enterprise Adviser Employer.  As well as learning more about Westcoast Ltd, the largest privately owned business in the Thames Valley, students spent time shadowing staff in a variety of roles including Marketing, Product Development, Sales and IT.

Vodafone Insight day. Year 12 students attended an Insight day at Vodafone Headquarters in Newbury. This was an opportunity for students to improve their personal and employability skills with the support of business professionals from Vodafone. In the workshop they looked at Digital Footprint and Social Media awareness, received top tips for CVs and interviews, had a tour of the site and undertook an App Challenge which culminated with them presenting to the other students and Vodafone Business Volunteers.

Work experience.  Students in Year 13 completing a Level 3 BTEC in Business Studies undertook a range of week-long work experiences at a variety of local companies.  This is an integral part of their course and allows them first hand, practical experience of a business environment.

Year 12 students completing a Level 2 BTEC have undertaken a two week placement with a local employer in an industry sector that interests them.

Rosalind Franklin Institute. Through Education Business Partnership, the school was approached to work on an exciting project with the Rosalind Franklin Institute at Harwell.  Rosalind Franklin Institute currently have a new building under construction with Mace, they asked a group of Year 8 and 9 students to help design the hoardings around the building work.  A group of students visited the Harwell Campus and undertook workshops led by scientists from Rosalind Franklin Institute and staff from Mace.  They also had a tour of the new building site.  Students have undertaken a second workshop in school.  After a third workshop in January, students will be given the challenge to design images, wording and phrases to be used on the hoardings of the building that is currently being constructed.  They will be given six weeks to produce their artwork and hand it in – their work will then be transformed onto the hoardings and seen by all the visitors to the Harwell site.

Adam Clayton Work Experience Programme. The Adam Clayton Foundation Work Experience Programme was launched during a Year 10 assembly.  Former students Dom Popple, James Robertson, Rob Perkin and Chris Boadle visited to talk about upcoming Work Skills Workshop and Work Experience opportunities that will be funded through money they raised during a long distance cycle ride in memory of their friend.

Gatsby Benchmark 7. Encounters with further and higher education.

Students are given the opportunity to consider all future further and higher education opportunities:

Year 11 assemblies.  These have provided students with the opportunity to hear from alternative Post-16 providers so that they are able to make informed decisions about their future.  This term they have heard from representatives of Activate Learning Colleges and UTC, Oxfordshire.  Dates for the Open Events for local establishments are available on the school website. 

The school 6th Form Open Evening was extremely popular and allowed both existing students, and those from other schools, the opportunity to explore available 6th Form courses.  Year 13 students also visited Year 11 students during a PDP session to talk to them about what life is really like in the 6th Form.

Year 11 Next Steps Conference at Reading University.  A group of students spent the day at the University.  While there they had a tour of the campus, two subject taster sessions and a study skills session.

Gatsby Benchmark 8. Personal Guidance.

A number of students in Year 11 have received individual guidance during a one to one interview to help them make decisions for Post-16 options and longer term career goals.  Year 12 students have started to undertake group interviews with the Careers Leader to discuss Post-18 options and Work Experience opportunities next year.

 

 

 

Provider Access Statement

The Downs School acknowledges the right of providers of Post-14, Post-16 and Post-18 Education and Training to gain access to students at the school in order to inform them of the opportunities available. This complies with the school's legal obligations under Section 42B of the Education Act 1997.

Students in years 8-13 are entitled:

  • To find out about technical education qualifications and apprenticeships opportunities, as part of a careers programme which provides information on the full range of education and training options available at each transition point.
  • To hear from a range of local providers about the opportunities they offer, including technical education and apprenticeships - through options evenings, assemblies and group discussions and taster events.
  • To understand how to make applications for the full range of academic and technical courses.

Opportunities for access:

The school proactively encourages providers to arrange access events at the school. A number of events, integrated into the school careers programme, will offer providers an opportunity to come into school to speak to pupils and/or their parents. The provider can speak to the Careers Lead about suitable events taking place and also arrange ad hoc visits, e.g. assemblies, lunchtime talks.

Providers should speak to the Careers Lead to identify the most suitable opportunities.

The school policy on safeguarding sets out the school's approach to allowing providers into school as visitors to talk to students.

Premises and facilities:

The school will make the main hall, classrooms or private meeting rooms available for discussions between the provider and students, as appropriate to the activity. The school will also make available audio visual and other specialist equipment to support provider presentations. This will all be discussed and agreed in advance of the visit with the Careers Lead.

Please contact Mrs P Allum, Careers Lead by email careers@thedownsschool.org or telephone 01635 270080.

The Careers and Enterprise Company

The Careers and Enterprise Company (https://www.careersandenterprise.co.uk/) run a national network that connects schools and colleges with employers and careers programme providers and supports them to work together to provide effective work experiences for young people.

 

The network is facilitated by Enterprise Coordinators, trained professionals who work with clusters of schools and colleges to build careers plans and make connections to local and national employers.

In turn, these Enterprise Coordinators support a group of senior business volunteers, known as Enterprise Advisers, who they match with one of the school or colleges in the network.

Enterprise Advisers use their knowledge of the local business landscape to support Senior Leadership and Careers Team to develop an effective careers plan and to create opportunities with their business contacts in the area for their school or college’s students.

At The Downs School, our Enterprise Coordinator is Nikki Wakefield who is based in the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise partnership.

WestcoastOur Enterprise Adviser is Alex Tatham, Managing Director of Westcoast, who is supported by Eloise Wylie, Talent Acquisition Manager at Westcoast.  The company is helping support a number of careers events for The Downs School to help increase Employer Engagement.

“As the government put more emphasis on career promotion in schools, it is a privilege to be able to help The Downs to execute their already excellent careers programme. At Westcoast, we are passionate about promoting careers in IT to our local community at the heart of the Silicon Corridor of the UK. I believe it is critical to help students at The Downs to get a flavour of life in the workplace and be inspired by a range of industries and opportunities.”  Alex Tatham - Managing Director, Westcoast

http://www.thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk/getfile/Public%20Documents/Programmes/Skills%20Education%20and%20Employment/CEC/Careers%20Hub/ThamesValleyBerkshire.png?inline-view=trueThe school has joined the newly formed Thames Valley Careers Hub.  This is a group of 20 schools across the Thames Valley who will be working closely together to further improve the range of outcomes for the young people in the local area.  Increased support will be available to the school through a new Hub Lead, working with existing Enterprise Coordinators, to deliver against the Gatsby Benchmarks. The Hub Lead will coordinate activity and build local networks (for example, with employers, businesses and higher and further education providers). There is a central Hub fund that will offer the opportunity to invest in activities which benefit schools and colleges across the Hub, such as apprenticeship events and broader learning and sharing events.

 

The Gatsby Benchmarks

Statutory Guidance was introduced last year requiring all school to be fully compliant in relation to the Eight Gatsby Benchmarks relating to good careers practice in school by 2020.  Using the Compass Careers Benchmark Tool issued by the Careers and Enterprise Company, schools are able to track their progress towards these Benchmarks.  A recent evaluation with the Careers and Enterprise Company demonstrated The Downs School is now fully compliant in 7 of the 8 Benchmarks (and 90% complete for Benchmark 3). Nationally, on average schools and colleges are achieving 2.13 of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks (November 2018 Careers and Enterprise Company “State of the Nation” report).

 

Taken from DfE Careers guidance and access for education and training providers, published October 2018:

 

Benchmark

Criteria

Where We Stand

1. A stable careers programme

 

Every school and college should have an embedded programme of career education and guidance that is known and understood by students, parents, teachers, governors and employers.

The school’s career programme is published on the school website and student entitlement statements are displayed in tutor rooms.  The programme is reviewed annually following feedback from stakeholders.  The school has a named Careers Leader who works to develop the careers programme.

2.Learning from career and labour market information

 

Every student, and their parents, should have access to good quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities. They will need the support of an informed adviser to make best use of available information.

All students have access to eClips on-line, which holds up to date Labour Market Information.  Students and parents are further given information on future options through a range of careers activities, particularly at key transition stages, and the Personal Development Programme (PDP).

3.Addressing the needs of each student

 

Students have different career guidance needs at different stages. Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each student. A school’s careers programme should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout.

Each student has an individual log in for Grofar, the on-line careers software used by the school.  Here they can update their action plan and record careers events they have attended.  The school publishes destination data and works closely with West Berkshire Council to maintain records.  The school actively encourages ex-students to visit the school and talk to current students about their options.

4.Linking curriculum learning to careers

 

All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths.

All subjects include lessons related to careers; these are identified in the Curriculum Summaries published on the school website.  During the academic year, each faculty will also hold a careers subject week to further explore links between subjects/subject skills and the curriculum.  Careers is also an integral part of the school’s Personal Development Programme.

5.Encounters with employers and employees

Every student should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.

Every student has a number of encounters with employers during their school career, including a wide variety of STEM employers.  This is through careers events such as “Exploring your Future”, assemblies and visits by employers to subject lessons.

6.Experiences of workplaces

Every student should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities, and expand their networks.

In Year 10 students undertake two work shadowing days, visiting a range of local employers.  In Year 12 students visit Vodafone for an Insight Day, students are also encouraged to arrange individual work experience.  There are also a range of ad hoc trips to local employers to ensure that every student has visited a work place by the end of Year 11, and again in the 6th Form.

7.Encounters with further and higher education

All students should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace.

Students are supplied information about all potential options available to them Post 16 and Post 18.  Students hear from universities, local employers and colleges about potential options during assemblies and other career related events such as After 18 Day. 

8.Personal guidance

Every student should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a career adviser, who could be internal (a member of school staff) or external, provided they are trained to an appropriate level. These should be available whenever significant study or career choices are being made.

Every student has access to careers advice through the Careers Leader, who holds a Level 6 Diploma in Careers Guidance and Development and registered as a CDI Professional.  Every student will receive individual careers advice during Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5.

 

 

 

 

Student Destinations and Alumni

Destination data is available in the school comparison tables on the website:

https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/school/110102/the-downs-school

 

Destinations for those students who left July 2018.

Year 11

There were 181 students in the cohort

  • 137 students joined TDS Sixth Form (76% of total, compared with 132 students, 75% of total in 2017)
  • 8 students joined Sixth Forms in other schools, in both the state and independent sector (7 in 2017)
  • 28 students joined an FE college (26 in 2017)
  • 6 students took up apprenticeships (8 in 2017)
  • No students were NEET, Not in Education, Employment or Training (3 in 2017)

 

Year 13

There were 130 students in the cohort

  • 113 (86.9%) accepted a university offer (80% in 2017)
  • 51% of students accepted a place in a Russell Group university (50% in 2017)
  • 63% of students accepted a place in a Russell Group or 1994 Group University (60% in 2017)
  • 2 students are repeating this year to retake some of their subjects
  • 15 students took gap years to travel
  • 7 students began employment, for example The Army and Waitrose
  • 2 students have to be considered NEET, as they could not be contacted
  • 5 students began apprenticeships: Vodafone – Software Development, Google – Marketing, Bowmer & Kirkland – Degree Quantity Surveyor, NG Bailey – Engineering, Legal firm in Oxford – Paralegal

 

Alumni

As a school we encourage our past students to keep in contact with us, a number of recent leavers have come back in to school to help with careers events.  If you wish to join our network, please use the following link https://community.grofar.com/SignUp/db741920-1b2e-42e5-89db-575080219501 or email careers@thedownsschool.org

Here are examples of what our alumni are doing now:

My name is Mariella Springford and I attended The Downs School in 2014-2016. Upon leaving Sixth Form I gained a place on Bowmer and Kirkland’s (B&K) Sponsorship programme as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor.  B&K is one of the largest and most successful privately-owned construction groups in the UK.

To successfully complete the programme, I attend The University of Westminster for 1 day a week working towards a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management and spend the rest of the week at work. Upon completion of my degree, I will maintain my position as a Quantity Surveyor at Bowmer & Kirkland with the opportunity to progress further up the career ladder. I am currently finishing my third year of the degree course and feel that it has contributed greatly towards my development as a QS. B+K offer a competitive salary, full sponsorship through University and pay any associated with travel/study fees.

A Quantity Surveyor is similar to an accountant and are responsible for all commercial aspects of a construction project.  I am currently working on a £22m commercial office development in Bristol and my responsibilities include Paying consultants/sub-contractors both fairly and promptly, Understanding Contracts, Managing and forecasting costs, Keeping to a budget, and Managing different trade packages e.g. ceramic tiling and decorating.

I moved to The Downs School when I was 16 and thoroughly enjoyed my 2 years there, especially participating in the sports and social events. 

What I Wish I’d known at School:

You are young and not expected to know what you want to do with your life. The best piece of advice I can offer is to gain work experience in any areas that you are interested in. Contact as many companies as possible and go for a work experience placement – this way you get to know what you may and may not like!

Grades are not the be all and end all. Many employers will agree that an individual’s attitude and experience mean far more than their grades. Grades keep doors open but ultimately, they view you as a person. 

I am a keen ambassador for getting young people to enter the Construction Industry – especially encouraging more females to come into a predominately male environment.  To try and implement this, I have given presentations to students at The Downs School for the last three years and attended various careers fairs.

 

My name is Sam van Huyssteen, and I went to the Downs from year 7 right the way through to year 13. I finished my GCSE’s in 2012, and my A Levels in 2014. I went on to study Psychology at the University of Sheffield. It was my Psychology teacher at the Downs who inspired my ambition to become a Clinical Psychologist! I did some volunteering at University, running support groups for adults suffering from eating disorders, and after University, I knew I wanted to become a Doctor in Clinical Psychology. So I needed to gain some experience. I worked at a secondary school in for a year and a half, whilst volunteering in a hospital’s child psychology team, and realised that I absolutely loved working with children and young people, even more so than working with adults, and so this led me onto my current job!

I am currently working as an Assistant Clinical Psychologist for the NHS in a children’s mental health service for young people up to the age of 17. I do one-to-one work with patients who are experiencing mental health difficulties, and I also run therapy groups that help young people tackle their anxiety, depression, and help them to manage their emotions. I go to schools to see patients too, as sometimes this helps me to see if the school needs to be doing more to support their mental health.

My favourite memories of being at the Downs were House matches – especially Rounders and Sports Day. The friends I made these memories with are still my close friends now.

When I was at school I struggled a lot with my mental health, and at the end of year 12 it was my Biology teacher who helped me realise I needed help. She sat with me after school till about 5pm and just listened to me. That’s the thing that’s helped me most in my career; sometimes just listening to a young person makes all the different in the world. Giving up my time for them when they need it is the probably the most valuable thing I do.

I wish I’d known that my grades and marks would not define the rest of my life. I overworked and became very obsessed with only achieving the highest possible marks, and this made me really unhappy. I could have enjoyed my school life much more if I knew that I didn’t need top marks in order to succeed in my career, or in life. You are more than your grades!

 

 

 

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