At EPCS, the destination of all of our students is our ultimate goal. We feel it is very important for students to try out different roles and experiment with their options, before making life-changing choices. We encourage all of our students to explore and research different career choices so that their option choices in Y8 help them to shape their future careers and excel in an area they are truly happy working in.
As early as Year 7, in Autumn Term 2, students create ‘life goals’ in their PHSE sessions. This encourages students to consider their futures and begin to realise their aspirations, what motivates them and what potential challenges they may face. In the Summer Term, this is revisited, when Y7 undergo a module in finance, considering the monetary implications of university: budgeting, banking, saving, spending… Students have access to online educational tools that help them to consider their choices and reflect upon their decisions, considering their success at different points in time. We think it is crucial that all advice and information is honest and readily available so that students feel they have all the tools they need to find out about their interests, even if their interests continue to change term by term.
Our PHSE programme considers ‘what is work?’ in Y8, with students researching local jobs and the qualifications needed to be successful in different working sectors. In Year 9, our programme challenges stereotypes in the workplace and gives students time to reflect on their progress towards the goals they made in Y7 before finally going through a rigorous application process and mock interview in both Y10 and Year 11.
Our PHSE programme incorporates:
- Interview techniques
- CV writing
- Letters of Application
- Mock interview from a School Governor
- AND the ability to work on feedback and improve in a second interview scenario.
Where students continue to stay with us into EPCS6, we further develop social skills and understanding of the workplace by ensuring students sign up to community work placements and a full week of work experience.
Throughout each year, students are given the opportunity to attend workshops in different careers sectors:
- STEM, provided by both BAE Systems, National Grid Wokingham, Science made Simple and Tomorrow’s Engineers.
- Civil Service – provided by Healthtec, Thames Valley Police and Road Safety Bracknell
- County Council – shadowing the work of Bracknell Forest’s Council members, going through the elective process to join local Youth Parliament and have a say from a young person’s perspective about locally proposed change.
Our assembly programme also includes a wealth of information, delivered by external agencies and by our own staff with previous experience in other careers. We have had talks from AIM Apprenticeships, the Army and have weighed up the pros and cons of gap years. Furthermore, our ‘Criss Cross’ days have allowed us to have huge impact with certain year groups, enabling students to have a whole day to learn more about careers:
- Y8 STEM workshops, leading to ‘mini-big bang showcase’ where students linked their learning to hundreds of potential industries.
- Y10 A+E workshops. All students learned to conduct CPR safely in order to save a life. They also learned about the role of all those involved after a road collision.
- Y10 enterprise. All students created businesses and worked to successfully market their product, revising budgeting and analysing audience response in order to improve saleability.
- Y9 STEM sessions on drone technology and coding.
With more ‘criss-cross’ days yet to come, we hope to further inspire and motivate students to consider jobs that are less well known – whilst giving them the time to fully engage with an idea and speak to professionals in the industry wherever possible, to ensure they get the most accurate understanding of what their future could hold for them.
Every year, a range of university trips are held to show students what life at university is like, whilst immersing them in student culture, visiting accommodation, sitting in seminars and listening to lectures. Students are given talks and challenges to test their passion for a subject and enthuse them about the many opportunities available to them, should they achieve their target grades at A level. Many trips to Russell Group Universities encourage our HAS (higher ability students) to seek courses in the top 25 institutions in the country, whilst we also work with some universities in order to compete or branch out and work on life skills such as problem-solving or teamwork. We even have ‘business lunches’ for our HAS students, whereby our affiliate at Reading University meets with our students to discuss potential and help students form their plans for the future.
The Head of Sixth Form, Ben Stephenson, leads the UCAS (University Applications) process. Students are given support to log onto the UCAS system, research courses and complete applications, including personal statements which tutors also assist. Every student’s application is thoroughly checked before being sent to UCAS.