"Despite the short timescale, the technical challenges of getting all of our students online and engaged with our partner organisations was a mammoth task"
Teachers at a Northumberland Academy with 1100 students working remotely from home employed some of their own problem-solving skills to ensure that their annual careers week went ahead.
St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy in Bedlington held its careers week despite the effects of COVID, construction work taking place on a new sports hall and the entire student population being plunged into remote learning – all with just three weeks’ notice before the annual event.
Assistant Headteacher Lesley Poulter was tasked with the job of making sure everything went like clockwork despite the pressures from outside uncontrollable influences.
“We continually raise young people’s aspirations and do so by giving each student a wide range of experiences of the world of work. It’s about opening doors and highlighting to our students the vast range of possibilities open to them. We emphasise some of the key employability skills that they will need including motivation, good communication, teamwork, problem-solving and adaptability.”
Lesley’s problem-solving and adaptability skills was certainly put to the test as she and her team put into place a plan to hold the careers week remotely. With the support of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Founders4school, Port Training Services at the Port of Blyth, Osbit, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult as well as Newcastle and Northumberland Colleges alongside Unifrog and a variety of alumni and local entrepreneurs, the stage was set and a new plan for a never tried before virtual careers’ week was born.
During the week, students sitting at home and those in school from families of key workers virtually toured colleges and workplaces and received vibrant and dynamic presentations from employers and guest speakers including David Hodgson from the Futureme project and four speakers from Founders4 Schools.
One of the original aims of Careers Week 2021 was to engage students with the growing STEM career opportunities in the area and meet inspiring engineers and employers within the Port of Blyth, ORE Catapult and Osbit.
Osbit Engineer Katie Protheroe mapped out her career path to becoming a successful engineer with the company. She shared with students the values of resilience, a positive attitude and the character traits needed to underpin a successful career. Sally Poxon, Validation Engineer with ORE Catapult gave her insight into her role emphasising the STEM skills needed to deal with challenges faced when testing equipment such as massive wind turbine blades.
“Despite the short timescale, the technical challenges of getting all of our students online and engaged with our partner organisations was a mammoth task but the feedback from our students was overwhelmingly positive and made all of the preparation work worthwhile.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone who helped us in our vision to engage our young people to be the best they can be by making them feel optimistic about their future and their future career in the North East and we’re already planning ahead for Careers Week 2022,” said Lesley.