Careers New Zealand’s Benchmarks and ERO’s previous evaluation of careers education (see Appendix 4) indicate that a well-designed, whole-school approach to careers education and guidance includes:
This report is structured around these seven aspects, with a final section on working with Careers New Zealand staff and using their Benchmarks. Each section starts with a summary of the main features which is followed by examples of good practice that illustrate key points.
Each of the 10 schools had a clear vision of their purpose in preparing students for life beyond school. They had designed careers education and guidance as an integral part of their curriculum and pastoral systems. The key elements to support learning and wellbeing were evident where schools had:
The following paragraphs describe schools that were particularly effective with this aspect.
The vision for Lynfield College students is that they will be confident, connected and actively-involved lifelong learners. Students’ interests and goals drive the curriculum. The school uses information from students, deans and faculty heads to identify the subjects students need, and matches these to the Vocational Pathways 1 initiative.
The school is creating purposeful learning pathways for students and has integrated careers education into the curriculum. The careers manager has a strong strategic overview and is a passionate advocate of a school-wide careers approach. One of the deputy principals oversees student support and leads weekly meetings with deans and careers staff. The careers manager meets regularly with the principal and has forged good links with the pastoral and academic areas of the school.
The principal actively promotes the value and importance of careers education and guidance to students, parents and staff. Careers education and guidance is one of the three pillars of student success, alongside course structure and professional development. These three pillars are linked coherently in strategic planning.
The principal recognises that the curriculum needs to suit a wide range of student needs, interests and career aspirations and provides resources for this approach. He spoke of ‘the need to find round holes for round pegs and square holes for square pegs. We look at what boys need and then tailor courses to suit’. Curriculum courses and programmes are flexible, with many choices for students strongly linked to career opportunities within the community. Students gain credits that are meaningful for them and connect to what they want to do in the future.
Careers education and guidance has been a focus for the principal, board and senior management team for many years. The school participated in Designing Careers (see Appendix 2) in 2005/06 and has been working with Careers New Zealand since 2009 on a strategic approach to developing careers education and guidance. The principal and senior leadership team lead the developments with professional development provided by Careers New Zealand.
The charter states the school’s mission as: ‘Young women enabled to reach their potential and broaden the opportunities available to them in the future’. The strategic and annual plans include goals related to careers education and guidance. The plans have measurable outcomes and clarify expectations and accountabilities for staff.
The school’s involvement in Te Kotahitanga2 has explicitly linked goal setting, career pathways and academic counselling.
The school has high expectations and emphasises that learning programmes should connect to the wider lives of students and whānau. The key competencies of participating and contributing are also emphasised to prepare students for future employment, education or training. Career management competencies are developed over time and all Year 13 students leave with a career plan.
Wairoa is a small town where employment opportunities are limited and often short term. School leaders and teachers are continually looking for ways to engage students, keep them at school and have them successfully transition to employment or further education. Teachers encourage students to look beyond what is available locally.
The school has a long tradition of taking students to visit tertiary institutions and experience the learning environment.
The school has very strong community networks and recognises the advantages of partnerships with employers. The principal has set up a reference group of local employers (including the three biggest ones) to help the school understand the possibilities for employment and the skills employers are looking for. This information can then be used when the school reviews the effectiveness of its careers education.
Student choice is starting to inform curriculum design. When the school noticed that students were leaving the district for agricultural training, they established an agricultural academy, which teaches programmes at school and on farms. Students are helped to realise that a career in agriculture can be wider than just learning basic farm skills.
The Gateway 3 coordinator sought opportunities for students to learn through work experience. She saw that local hairdressers were overwhelmed with the numbers of students wanting work experience placements and it was difficult to coordinate work placements around the students’ school-based programmes. She worked in partnership with a local home-based hairdressing business to move the business to school premises. Students can now work regularly with the hairdresser’s clients, to link with their school programmes.
The Gateway coordinator also approached the New Zealand Institute of Highway Technology to encourage them to offer National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2 infrastructure credits to students not yet in the workforce. The resulting project involved a small number of students constructing a community memorial walkway. The students applied and were interviewed by a local roading services company, following the same stringent practice as required for adult candidates for this employment, including regular drug tests. They learned about safety and hazard identification as part of the programme. Students achieved their certificates and many are now in apprenticeships or employed with local companies.
All schools with high quality careers education and guidance had clearly identified how they would put in place and resource their programmes.
The key elements included:
Some schools surveyed staff about their involvement in careers education and guidance and what support they would like. Leaders acknowledged that teachers varied in their capability and confidence in providing careers education and guidance, and provided professional development, experiences and resources to support them.
Subject teachers were expected to talk about careers their subject might lead to, and to arrange related speakers and visits. Some schools arranged for teachers to visit workplaces that were relevant to their subject. Some teachers chose the focus of their teaching in relation to possible career/study directions identified by students.
Some of the schools were extending form teacher responsibilities to also include careers education and guidance and were developing staff skills and knowledge to do this effectively. Careers staff developed useful resources and support for staff involved in helping students with subject selection to guide this process.
Many careers leaders in schools have a wide range of established relationships within the careers field and local networks of careers and transition teachers provide an important vehicle to share ideas.
The examples below highlight how the schools supported teachers to take on new roles.
The careers leader has a high profile in the school and regularly presents appropriate information at year level assemblies. The careers leader has a Masters in Careers Counselling, and the other careers team member has been the Gateway/employment skills teacher for many years and has a Graduate Certificate in Careers Development. The third team member is studying tertiary careers education papers.
Teachers who are involved in careers education and guidance are well supported to provide information to students about possible careers in subject teaching areas. Resources and professional development are provided for Year 9 social studies teachers and Year 10 health teachers, who teach particular components of the careers programme. The careers leader organises visits to related workplaces for various subject departments so that teachers become familiar with some current employment opportunities in their subject areas. The careers leader also regularly upskills heads of departments and deans and provides resources.
Mentor teachers work with Year 9 and 10 students with a focus on subject choices and keeping options open. These teachers were given guidance about how to have in-depth conversations about students’ learning, counselling students and having conferences with parents.
Careers education and guidance is well integrated into everyday learning and teaching across the curriculum. The college participated in Creating Pathways and Building Lives (see Appendix 2), which included planning strategic and annual goals related to developing careers education and guidance. This approach is still strongly embedded in the school, and has meant professional development has been well-planned to support staff with new responsibilities.
Careers education and guidance is shared by all faculties and subject departments and the careers department work in tandem to teach careers education. Each faculty’s management plan includes strategic goals about teaching careers education. One faculty was developing an inquiry project to review how well the faculty was meeting the students’ future aspirations and goals. This included a student survey and a review of courses to include information about career and industry requirements. The results of this survey and review and suggested follow-up will be reported to the board.
Senior managers and the careers manager provide ongoing support for form teachers and subject teachers through staff meetings, professional development and written material. Teachers were taken through careers-related websites and received training on how to link their subject to possible careers. This means all staff can assist students with their career decisions in an informed way and ensures each student receives appropriate careers education. Teachers have also been supported with relevant experiences. For example, Year 9 teachers spent a day in workplaces within their subject sphere. They found this very valuable and were encouraged to discuss career pathways in their subject.
The careers adviser provides resources and guidance for teachers who teach careers units, and monitors the quality of the careers work completed by students. Some teachers have attended university taster days so that they are better informed about possible courses and careers in their subject areas. The school expects that department planning includes information about careers related to subjects. This means there are authentic links between careers and the curriculum for students.
The Careers Education Management Team promotes a coordinated approach to careers education and guidance and its role in curriculum and pastoral care. The team includes deputy principals with responsibility for curriculum and pastoral care. The school decided to develop the ‘Ako’ (form teacher) role to reinforce relationships between students and teachers and strengthen pastoral care. Careers education and guidance is one of their responsibilities. The school has included goals for this in the school’s annual plan and the annual plan for the careers department.
The Careers Education Management Team recognised that teachers have varied capability and confidence in carrying out this new responsibility, and so the school has appointed an Ako Leader to develop the Ako Programme. She and the deputy principal meet weekly to reflect on progress and to plan next steps. They have designed meaningful professional learning to develop teachers’ skills in mentoring students. The careers leader has provided an Ako handbook to support Ako teachers and resources for students to complete. Teachers have also learnt more about the requirements for students to gain literacy and numeracy credits and university entrance. Students benefit from more up-to-date and appropriate advice.
The careers staff gather up feedback from staff each term to identify the support needed for the professional development programme. Some teachers have appraisal goals and inquiries linked to their Ako role. The school’s professional learning groups provide time to reflect and share ideas.
Subject teachers are now expected to include employment opportunities and courses in their area of expertise so students are aware of possible pathways. Professional development is provided for them about careers related to their subject, including teachers visiting workplaces and tertiary providers.
All 10 schools reviewed had a planned approach to careers education and guidance that differed across the year levels, with students’ learning and understanding progressing from year to year. At each year level, students revisited their strengths and interests, with an increasing focus on the implications of these for choosing courses and a career. Typically these programmes included the following:
The following examples illustrate how two schools were designing their careers education and guidance across year levels and curriculum areas.
The careers development programme provides relevant experiences for all students at each year level. Careers guidance supports students at risk of poor outcomes.
Careers education and guidance for Year 9 students is largely developmental.
The emphasis is on self awareness, and gathering information about students’ strengths and interests is a core activity. Health and social studies units develop students’ knowledge of themselves and introduce them to the Careers New Zealand website. Students complete a profile sheet with their form teacher about personal strengths and work preferences and the careers staff keep this information so students can modify their information in subsequent years.
At Year 10, a stronger emphasis is placed on students exploring careers opportunities through looking at specific jobs and life skills. All students are involved in personality testing and discussions about possible career pathways. Most students participate in one day of work shadowing. The Ministry of Education’s Education for Enterprise 6 (E4E) initiative also provided some real world experiences. For example, a group of Year 10 girls attended courses on information and communication technology at the University of Canterbury, while other students researched a range of careers within dairying.
Year 11 students investigate the possibilities for careers based on their own knowledge of their skills, strengths, attributes and interests. The focus is on ‘great to have this goal, but what’s your plan?’ Students are provided with support to choose their Year 12 subjects, including using CareerQuest, 7 a subject selection expo, and specialist teachers providing careers information in their subject areas.
At Year 12, the focus is increasingly on future planning and action. Year 12 ‘resource classes’ are run by the careers staff for two hours each week. They include transition activities such as:
Individual careers guidance interviews are available on request. All students take part in another work exploration day.
At Year 13, the school focuses on helping individual students plan and take action towards leaving school at the end of the year. All students participate in seminar periods that include study plan guidance, help with applications for jobs, tertiary courses and accommodation, and interview skills. All students at this Year level have one-to-one interviews with the head of guidance. Some students participate in individual work exploration and site visits.
At Years 12 and 13, further careers education involves:
Students were able to explain to ERO what careers education and guidance they participated in at each year level and understood that the purpose was to develop awareness of their skills and strengths and suitable career pathways. Students said that staff went out of their way to support them to get where they wanted to go.
From Year 9 we are told about what is expected or required and what we need to do to get there.
Our form teacher always strives to get you there.
The school also provided programmes with a greater focus on transition support for students at risk of poor outcomes. Year 11 students were offered a Life and Employment Skills class that provides unit standards directly related to the careers management competencies. The students also do work experience for a week each in Terms 2 and 3. Students in Years 12 and 13 are offered a Head start programme, which includes eight hours each week in-school and Fridays spent in work experience or at the local trades academy. The programme is based on unit standards with generic work skills and is linked to work experience.
Six years ago we found boys in inappropriate courses at Level 3, low achievement at this level and too many students leaving school early. So we focused on broadening their options and providing for the students who wouldn’t go on to university.
The school has responded to student interest and local opportunities and invested in its own ‘trades centre’ to deliver courses to senior students. Centre staff are accredited to provide Industry Training Organisation 8 unit standards. The centre has 400 boys (more than a third of the school) taking courses and a 90 percent pass rate. An onsite trades centre has allowed many of the boys to remain active participants in the wider school curriculum with the security of onsite learning, combined with an easier transition to other subjects. The school uses the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology Trades Academy to fill identified gaps in its own trade programmes. The school also involves a wide range of other educational institutions, employers and the wider community in its programmes.
Key staff employed by the trades centre come from established trade backgrounds, which means that they bring a wealth of experience and links into the wider community and working world, as well as an understanding of what employers need. They have knowledge of community employment trends and try to turn out ‘trades-ready’ students who do not need pre-apprenticeship training. These community and industry links help the school provide work experience placements. The school has also developed cadetships with a car retailer and an accountancy firm.
Many employers seek work placement students as a way to test their suitability for future apprenticeships. Many boys are offered fulltime positions during these work placements. The local community of tradespeople trusts the school because it is open about the boys’ abilities and the possible support some may need to succeed in the workplace. This makes the community more likely to accept the boys, knowing they will be supported by the school.
Careers education and guidance is well integrated into the curriculum and innovatively builds on the interests and needs of students as they move through the year levels at Kelston Girls' College. Students complete a student folder related to careers education and guidance from Year 9. Students develop independence, supported through careers education and guidance.
A ‘Careers Academy’, established in 2012, has four core areas:
Each core area has a wide variety of pathways that were developed in response to both student interest and opportunities identified in the community. Within the academy, as well as English and mathematics, students learn health education and financial literacy and about preparing for the workplace. The latter includes learning about workplace safety, culture diversity in the workplace, presentation skills and driving education. These are all intended to build students’ overall confidence and leadership.
Students are clear about their development.
Life skills class (was) really important.
Using the folders since Year 9 means that I understand SMART goals.
I understand what will suit me.
More confident, can ask questions now, manage myself and meet deadlines.
Key groups of students were supported through a variety of programmes, initiatives and individualised guidance. Their parents were involved in a variety of ways, including working with the dean or form teacher to plan pathways for individuals and attending careers-related events designed for particular groups of parents.
Most schools provided some activities or experiences that particularly focused on Māori and Pacific students.
Some schools had sizeable groups of refugee students and provided tailored support for them by employing staff from the refugee community, providing targeted programmes and providing interpreters at meetings with parents.
Wrap-around pastoral care is a strength of the school as careers staff work closely with staff responsible for pastoral care. Each week deans, careers staff, guidance counsellors, senior leaders and the Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) meet to share knowledge, identify students at risk and develop an approach to address students’ issues based on their strengths.
Specialist careers support is provided for at-risk senior students. Form and subject teachers identify these students as early as possible. Twenty minutes each day and 40 extra minutes each fortnight in form time allow for conversations about students’ career goals and the courses and qualifications they need to achieve their goals.
Māori students are well supported by a dean who monitors their achievement and wellbeing, develops individual career pathways and helps with subject choices. Tuakana teina 9 is strongly promoted in vertical form classes so there is always an older Māori student to act as a role model for younger girls. Staff talk with whanau throughout the year to support Māori students to make well-informed decisions.
The school holds a noho marae wananga 10 that focuses on learning pathways and possible careers and developing personal awareness and resilience. A Māori health academy has been established in response to a strong interest around health.
Māori students at Lynfield College who spoke with ERO said they are well supported and given lots of information to help them make career plans so that they have a clear understanding of what they have to do to achieve their career goals. Teachers have high expectations and encourage students at all year levels to aim high. Careers staff work with Māori students in focus groups to find ways to keep them engaged at school and to help them develop and achieve their career plans. There is a strong focus on building positive relationships with whanau. A team of Māori teachers provides coaching and advice on course selection and pathways to all Māori students in Years 10 to 13.
This approach has supported relationships with Māori students and their parents and whanau. Parent-teacher evenings are held at the school’s marae.
At Massey High School, Year 13 Māori students told ERO that careers education and guidance had given them confidence and insight into their strengths. The students said staff were very informative and wanted the best for each of them, and that careers advisers gave helpful ‘real’ advice. Māori students in Years 9 to 12 had many opportunities to explore possible education and career pathways and said they felt well positioned for success.
Tertiary experts talk with Māori students interested in particular pathways, and students are able to visit tertiary providers and experience life on campus as well as work experience in the career they are interested in. Some of the programmes students participate in include:
The school community has been exploring ‘What does it mean to be Pacific?’ Discussions at their Samoan Parents’ evening and Pacific Careers meeting showed that students perceived that being Pacific had very little to do with achievement.
They thought of being academically successful as being ‘Palangi’ (Pakeha). The students discussed who the Pacific role models/leaders in the school were and identified that they were more likely to be in sporting or cultural roles. School leaders realised that Pacific girls did not put themselves forward for other leadership positions, which triggered a focus on changing the way the girls felt about themselves. They presented information to the Pacific students about average wages and levels of education in New Zealand and compared those with Pacific people’s average wages. The school set up Celebrating Pacific Success evenings to make success visible and provide role models. Subsequent discussions led to a shift in Pacific students’ thinking and a change in their perception of themselves. This led to the students starting to set goals and putting themselves forward to be prefects.
Pacific students receive targeted assistance from careers staff and attend specific Pacific careers events such as Vic Days at Victoria University of Wellington. Pacific students have role models in the school, and see themselves as successful.
Pacific students are given help to access particular programmes targeted for Pacific students. The school’s relationships with Pacific families and the Pacific community contribute to the success of these programmes. Pacific students also participate in STEAM AHEAD, BEAMS, and Accelerating Aotearoa (see above). Other opportunities include:
Leaders and teachers recognise that their Pacific community values education and the school’s parent liaison person establishes good relationships with Pacific families. Parents now call to discuss their child’s plans for the future and how they can help them to make informed decisions about possible future pathways.
The school invites inspirational Pacific speakers as role models for students and to make them aware of possible careers. This, together with the focus on future planning from Year 10, encourages Pacific students to have high aspirations and make good subject choices.
Nelson College has 30 Burmese refugee students. These students have a dedicated teacher in charge, as well as a Burmese teacher aide who supports them in class.
The school’s careers programme for refugee students is part of a Ministry of Education initiative for refugee pathways and career planning. The teacher in charge monitors students’ academic progress and course selection, and clearly explains their NCEA credits to them and their parents. The teacher maintains close contact with parents, and families are fully involved in discussions about progress and opportunities available, and decisions about future learning pathways.
The programme, adapted from a Year 12 careers unit, builds students’ confidence with career planning by:
Students are generally successful and appreciate the individualised support. Outcomes are positive, with all students either continuing to further study or gaining employment.
Kelston Girls’ College has over 50 students enrolled from refugee families. Many are the first of their extended family to migrate to New Zealand. They have diverse ethnicities such as Afghani, Burmese, Congolese and Eritrean. Some of the students are from cultures that traditionally do not have women in career paths involving leadership. The careers staff work with parents to help them understand the different opportunities possible in New Zealand.
Refugee students are slowly eased into school and thinking about future careers.
The school supports students to gain formal qualifications including University Entrance Literacy English for Academic Purposes standards. Students gain work experience through the Gateway programme, which helps them make decisions on career pathways. Along with their families they participate in targeted careers workshops that include information about financial assistance.
Careers education and guidance was seen as an important part of the pastoral support system. Students are more motivated in their learning when they have a clear direction to guide them.
Some schools allocated the main responsibility for careers guidance to deans while others used deans as a backup for form teachers. Pastoral committees identified students who were at risk of not succeeding at school and often referred them for careers guidance. When deans had the main responsibility for careers guidance, it was easier for schools to ensure they had sufficient knowledge and support to carry out the careers education and guidance role effectively.
Other schools had introduced or extended form teacher roles so students developed ongoing relationships with an adult in a smaller group. The form teacher’s role included conversations with students about their learning, interests, possible future directions and motivation. Form teachers also developed an ongoing relationship with parents and families.
Parents were involved in helping their child make decisions about courses and possible careers. School leaders and teachers engaged parents in careers education and guidance through:
Careers information and resources were highly visible throughout the schools. Careers departments were usually centrally located with welcoming staff and well supplied with print materials (often displayed in Vocational Pathway groupings) and computers. Information about subject-related careers and careers events was displayed in classrooms, foyers and hallways.
The following examples show some of the ways the schools in this report integrated careers education and guidance as a key part of their pastoral support.
The tutors (deans) are the first port of call for students who want to discuss goals and careers. The Profile Builder has been integrated into the school’s student management system (as a pilot school) and this allows tutors to see the credits the students have acquired in relation to Vocational Pathways. The tutors’ ongoing conversations with students about their progress and plans are recorded and these records help tutors and careers staff to work together. Tutors refer students to the head of careers if they need more information about courses or careers to help them make decisions about career plans. The head of careers attends monthly meetings with the tutors to discuss support for individual students.
The tutors follow their year group until Year 13 so they have a good knowledge of each student and their needs. Tutors have a role in monitoring achievement and early identification of students at risk of not achieving. They believe conversations about achievement are directly linked to conversations about careers. Students who are stood down or suspended have interviews and career planning with the head of careers, as a condition of their return to school.
Parents and students have access to a wealth of information through the school intranet. A specialised portal for careers covers all the areas of careers education and guidance and provides links to Careers New Zealand, tertiary providers and useful job market analysis. Parents can also access their child’s achievement records through the school’s portal. A parents’ evening provided NCEA information and a subject selection expo was held. Subject specialist teachers show the relevance of their subject to different career options.
The school provides an extended form time each week where form teachers lead students through career development activities. Careers related units and worksheets are available to guide form teachers. They use booklets called My Pathway to help each student to develop awareness of their learning needs and aspirations, which students said they find very helpful.
Students said that teachers frequently talked about courses and pathways including student pathway planning and which subjects are relevant to their future needs.
Year level subject choice booklets show requirements of courses and potential career pathways.
The school decided to strengthen pastoral care by developing the Ako (form teacher) role so that all students have an ongoing relationship with a significant adult. Ako time has been extended to 25 minutes three times a week plus an extra hour each fortnight, as the school moves into longer learning times in 2015. This time enables Ako teachers to have ongoing conversations with students about possible future career pathways and subject choices. It also provides an opportunity for regular ‘checks and connects’ between each student and their Ako teacher, and leads to earlier identification of students at risk.
The school uses information about students’ career interests to identify providers for training, tertiary and industry experiences. Staff provide information about career- related opportunities and events that may be relevant. Students are expected to take responsibility for following these up to take advantage of the opportunities. Students have an Ako folder where they record their reflections and self assessments.
Students organised visits from their parents or a community member to talk to the Ako class about their life journey and how this related to what they had done at school.
This was highly successful. The students found the speakers to their own classes interesting and also talked to students from other classes about what they had learnt. Parents were pleased to be invited and it strengthened their relationships with teachers.
The school recognises that parents are important when making decisions about careers and courses and provides opportunities for them to be involved. Student-led parent meetings have resulted in more parents being involved. Parents are becoming more comfortable to come to the school, ask questions, and discuss future plans. They are involved with Ako teachers in planning pathways and identifying goals for students. When concerns arise, parents and teachers are able to work together to find a way forward. Separate evenings are held for Māori and Pacific parents.
The principal sees Years 9 and 10 as critical years. Year 9 and 10 students stay in the same form class with 30 students and two mentor teachers for the two years. Mentor teachers also teach a core subject to their form class. Teachers and students develop a strong relationship and the mentor role has been extended to include in-depth learning conversations, active counselling and parent conferencing. The conversations are intended to be positive and help students feel optimistic about their pathway. Students complete a Careers Outlook booklet based on Career Kete(from Careers New Zealand) and other resources. They work with their mentor teacher to prepare for learning conferences which are held in April and November. These are led by students and attended by mentor teachers and parents. Survey responses indicate that parents appreciate this approach.
The Careers hub has a high profile in the school and is well-used by students and teachers. Students find the careers staff very approachable and value their expertise. Students are confident to ask questions and make appointments if they need more formal advice and guidance. The hub is centrally located and thoughtfully resourced. Substantial space, attractive displays, comfortable chairs and computers provide easy access to careers information and stimulate student interest. Careers events are clearly displayed and notifications for parents and students are updated through the careers Facebook page, the parent portal, school newsletters and the school’s website.
The findings in this section identify what the 10 schools knew about the outcomes for students. Students’ comments illustrate good practice and how it helped prepare them to make decisions about their futures.
Careers education and guidance supported students to:
These initial outcomes meant students had a better sense of direction, understood the relevance of their learning and were more motivated to remain at school and learn.
Specific learning about careers meant students knew where to find information about careers and courses and were able to identify a range of possible careers. Visiting tertiary providers and experiencing workplaces helped them to clarify which options would suit them. This helped to build their confidence and ease their transition to ongoing education, training or employment. Some students were offered jobs as a result of a work placement.
Most schools did not formally monitor development of career management competencies. Schools usually identified outcomes of their careers education and guidance in general terms, highlighting students’ developing self awareness and confidence in planning for their future. Some schools referred to key competencies from The New Zealand Curriculum, especially ‘managing themselves’.
Schools often had more information about outcomes and achievement for students who were involved in programmes that were more targeted to transition to work, such as Gateway. Many of these students achieved particular unit standards (such as completing a curriculum vitae) or were offered a job by the employer at their work placement.
Many of the students ERO interviewed could talk about the careers education and guidance they had experienced and what they might do when they left school.
Students talked about highlights from their career education experiences and what they had learnt so far. Younger students identified activities that had been useful, such as completing the careers booklet, using websites, researching a range of jobs and learning about personal qualities - such as people skills and cultural skills. They gave examples of careers-related information in curriculum subjects, such as Market Day in economics and Gateway programmes. Students valued having guest speakers, careers nights, and three-way conferences with teachers and parents. They said form teachers were helpful, talked a lot about their futures and wanted them to do well.
Information such as student profile folders and student management system records demonstrated a long-term approach to developing career competencies.
Developing clear ideas about themselves
Students’ awareness of their strengths and interests and future employment possibilities developed over time. Many Year 10 students had general ideas about areas they might like to work in and knew they should keep their options open. They had reflected on their strengths and interests and felt more motivated to complete their work as they could see its relevance.
There is lots of reflection in Ako class. It’s good to talk about strengths, what you want to do and where you want to be. You have to really think about how to make the strengths better and weaknesses into strengths. Teachers encourage us to think about our interests and choose a pathway you love.
Another Year 10 student said:
I’m good at speaking persuasively so I might work in human resources, law or sales.
Many younger students were still in the process of deciding about what they might do in the future. This is illustrated by the comment from one Year 10 student who said that she knew what she was going to do when she left school, and followed this by saying she would be a scientist, a lawyer, a doctor or a PE teacher.
Senior students talked about their plans for the future and how the school and careers adviser had supported them by providing information, arranging work placements, and encouraging them to aim high. Students had also identified opportunities, goals and pathways, and developed self-management skills. Older students had very clear ideas about themselves and what they wanted to do in the future.
Students needing additional support identified their strengths and interests and learnt about different job areas. They explored jobs through work placements, learnt the importance of meeting deadlines and being punctual, and became better at managing themselves.
I’m looking at possible learning pathways and choosing subjects for this.
Students interviewed were positive about their understanding of the career pathways available to them as they progressed through to the senior school. Students said that there was a lot of discussion about what subjects connected to future needs and how relevant they were. Some of their comments were:
Teachers have high expectations and support us to aim high.
I’ve been given lots of information and have clear pathways in mind.
Students who did not have a family background of tertiary study found it useful to visit tertiary providers. They could see other students similar to themselves and found it easier to picture themselves studying there. One student who visited Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington and Wellington Institute of Technology said:
It’s good to feel what it’s like so I can believe it.
Work placements enabled students to experience the reality of jobs they were considering. This helped them to see the relevance of school in preparing them for the future and they became more engaged. Some students discovered that what they thought they wanted to do was not right for them. This was helpful because they were able to change direction early, before they spent time gaining qualifications that might have little use. Many students that leave from Year 12 leave for employment, and some were offered jobs as a result of work placements.
Students identified possible careers, found out about courses and training, planned the steps they needed to take and understood the impact of their choices and decisions.
One student has a dream of being a high profile TV journalist. She talked to the careers adviser and dean about her aspirations and they arranged opportunities for her to work as an intern for a local radio station and to attend a journalism ‘boot camp’ at a local polytechnic. She said:
The school tells you about opportunities but you have to do the following up.
Another student acknowledged that working out what to do with her life is a big thing. She had been living independently for two years and valued the support provided by the school staff. She has decided to enrol in a Bachelor’s degree in criminology, law and marketing. She said:
The careers adviser has helped shape me from a scared Year 12 student to where I am today.
Most of the schools had reviewed some aspect of their careers education and guidance. The reviews usually focused on activities and events, rather than the overall effectiveness of their provision.
High quality review was purposeful, systematic, ongoing and based on several sources of evidence. When concerns were identified, the school took action to address them and included them in planning for the next year.
Some schools had developed systems to monitor the provision and quality of careers education programmes and ensure every student participated. Most schools sought feedback from students on particular events or experiences and a few went further and asked for student feedback on their overall careers education and guidance experience. Some schools also obtained feedback from parents and staff.
Schools had some information about destinations of their leavers. Some had collated information about the destinations of their Year 13 leavers but only a few had information about students who left from Years 11 or 12.
School leaders’ reports to the board usually included descriptions of programmes, events and resourcing, and some information about student achievement. Some usefully reported progress in meeting the school’s careers education and guidance goals and recommendations for future goals.
The descriptions below illustrate the effective and robust review in some schools.
The measurable goals in the school’s strategic and annual plans provide a useful basis for systematically reviewing progress towards the goals. The school’s charter has two key goals relevant to careers education and guidance: providing students with relevant qualifications and pathways, and developing strong educational connections with the local community, businesses and employers.
The strategic plan contains actions related to these goals that reflect the school’s careers education and guidance programme, and specific measurable targets related to these goals and actions. Three such targets were that:
The school monitors progress against these goals and reports findings to the board of trustees.
The school systematically reviewed its progress towards the goals in its strategic and annual plan to determine how elements of careers education and guidance were included in programmes across subjects and across the school. Effective systems ensure all students receive appropriate careers education and guidance (and not just those at risk of poor outcomes).
The school frequently sought feedback from students, staff and parents about courses selected and careers education. To monitor the effectiveness of its careers education, the school analysed retention, engagement and achievement data. Self review focused in-depth on target groups such as Pacific students and particular programmes such as the Careers Academy. Reports to the board included students’ outcomes.
The school was developing some good longitudinal data about destinations after school by contacting former students to see whether they were doing what they had indicated at the time they left school.
A careers review surveyed some staff and students to obtain feedback about careers education and guidance and to inform future planning. Most staff felt they engaged with students effectively in discussing future pathways and believed this was an appropriate expectation of them. One review identified that only 58 percent of Year 13 students had a current curriculum vitae. As a result class work about this aspect has now increased.
A staff survey found that subject teachers needed further information about tertiary courses and careers staff responded by providing information about useful websites.
Self review of careers education and guidance is based on many sources, such as achievement results, feedback from students across year levels, input from Ako (form) teachers and guidance staff, feedback about students not making good choices and parent views. The school has established a consultation group with 25 students from different year levels.
Through the pastoral system, staff monitor programmes put in place to ensure that all students are receiving the careers education and guidance they need. Continual reflection means changes can be made quickly in response to concerns.
The schools with a whole-school approach to careers education and guidance had usually received professional development from external experts over an extended time. This is consistent with Helen Timperley’s Best Evidence Synthesis on professional development 12, which reported that professional practice was more likely to impact on student outcomes when it involved extended time for learning, external expertise and active school leadership.
Six schools had been involved with the two-year Creating Pathways and Building Lives initiative to develop their planning for careers education and guidance, and two with the earlier one-year Designing Careers initiative (see Appendix 2 for descriptions). Three schools had recently worked in-depth with Careers New Zealand, one had been helped with self review by Careers New Zealand and at least eight schools had been involved in professional development with Careers New Zealand staff. The schools that were most effective had all been involved with focused school-wide professional development initiatives over two or more years.
Schools that had worked with Careers New Zealand staff to use the Benchmarks had carried out more comprehensive reviews and developed plans to improve their careers education and guidance. Those who used the Benchmarks on their own reviewed only some dimensions, did not involve senior leadership and were not as confident using them as teachers in schools supported by Careers New Zealand staff. There was only limited recognition of the term ‘career management competencies’.
All schools had used a wide variety of Careers New Zealand resources for teachers and students. Many had developed careers booklets and activities that were based on Careers New Zealand resources and information
Four schools used the Benchmarks with Careers New Zealand staff to comprehensively review of their careers education and guidance programmes. Some of their experiences are described below.
In 2013, the careers staff of these two schools, with Careers New Zealand support, comprehensively reviewed their own school’s practices and programmes in relation to one dimension of the Benchmarks. One school reviewed the leadership dimension and the other the information dimension. Extensive evidence-based reviews assessed each school as ‘highly effective’, ‘consolidating effectiveness’, ‘adequate’, or ‘ineffective’, in each sub-category of the dimensions. School-wide practices were identified and reviewed to determine areas to develop. Each school set goals for 2014 which appear in their careers education and guidance planning documents. The career development goals link directly to the career management competencies.
The clearly outlined careers plans have a vision and policy statement linked to theBenchmarks, and show expected outcomes, actions, responsibilities, resourcing required, timelines and review dates.
The schools’ goals for 2014 included:
Support from Careers New Zealand and use of the Benchmarks to review careers education and guidance has been a key factor in developing a more strategic approach. Careers New Zealand worked alongside the school in 2012 to review its careers education and guidance. This helped them shape their strategic plan and set goals for 2012 to 2014.
Following a staff survey, senior leaders tailored a range of professional development opportunities to address the needs identified. The social sciences teachers accessed professional development about the use of The Real Game 13 and the Careers New Zealand website. The whānau (form) teachers engaged in professional development about mentoring and having careers conversations with students. Staff attended a workshop on student profiles. As a result of the support from Careers New Zealand, teachers now feel they have enough expertise to manage their own self review.
In 2012, a group of Year 10 students worked with Careers New Zealand and school careers staff on building career management competencies. Careers New Zealand modelled approaches for the school staff. In 2013, the college ran a follow-up workshop with students under the guidance of Careers New Zealand. As a result this group of students showed better understanding and self awareness of opportunities available and were more capable of using Profile Builder material (see Appendix 3).