St Catherine’s School, Bramley, Head of Careers Catherine Taylor on how its carefully designed careers programme helps students gain the edge in a competitive and constantly shifting work landscape

Faced with an increasingly competitive and constantly changing job market, careers education in schools must be forward thinking, multi-faceted and able to respond to the challenges faced by our young people as they leave school. Encounters with a range of different careers and opportunities is one facet of this.

St Catherine’s is committed to providing students with opportunities to hear about many different spheres of industry, through careers seminars, lectures, trips and events that raise awareness of the opportunities available to them. Having a stable careers programme integrated into the curriculum and tailored in an age appropriate and coordinated fashion means students gain the advice and support they need at the correct stages of their academic journey. In Years 7 and 8 girls attend end-of-term lectures during which they hear from a variety of alumnae about their pathways into their chosen careers. Examples of these lectures include talks by a film editor who had recently worked on The Crown series and a senior policy adviser in The Cabinet Office.

“Our seminars have encouraged students to consider jobs which they may not have even heard of or thought about before”

In Year 9 our students attend weekly careers lectures given by different professionals from our parent and alumnae body. Our aim is to broaden their knowledge of opportunities. Recent examples include print design at Sweaty Betty, paramedic science, publicity management at Netflix and engineering careers. In Years 10 and 11 students attend careers seminars to show the breadth in a specific sector – for instance ‘careers in the world of theatre’ and ‘careers with an environmental impact’. These have encouraged our students to consider jobs which they may not have even heard of or thought about before.

The network of alumnae, parents and friends available through the highly successful St Catherine’s Association community means students have a huge resource available to them. Association members often come into school to talk about their careers, offer work experience and provide advice and mentoring about university, careers and job applications. 

St Catherine's, Bramley on delivering focused careers guidance
Inside information about what different career paths entail may encourage students to consider pathways they hadn’t thought about

Transferable skills 

One of the key challenges being highlighted by employers is the skills gap in the workforce. It is for this reason that it is becoming increasingly important for students to develop and recognise the soft skills which make them work ready and improve their chances of gaining employment. The ability to demonstrate soft skills such as teamwork, resilience, leadership, critical thinking and emotional intelligence will set them apart in securing their career goal.

A student who is committed to her sports team not only demonstrates teamwork but also leadership, commitment and communication. By learning a musical instrument and playing in orchestras or bands, a student demonstrates commitment. The student who successfully juggles their schoolwork with many other activities also demonstrates resilience, time management and organisational skills.

Our students are encouraged to think about how the things they are learning now are also teaching vital skills for later life. The problem-solving and critical thinking abilities required to succeed academically can also help them when posed with a problem in the workplace – and set them apart. As a result of this focus, St Catherine’s is confident that when a student completes Sixth Form they will be properly equipped for the next stage of their journey – and can succeed, whatever the future careers landscape and job market may look like.

St Catherine’s School, Bramley

Further reading: Sixth Form 2:0 – how schools are adapting 16+ education