Careers Education and Support

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Careers and higher education guidance in the Senior School ensures that pupils receive effective guidance to prepare them for the next stage of education. ISI Report, January 2015

The importance attached to Higher Education and Careers guidance at St Columba’s College is illustrated by its newly refurbished, spacious premises in the Grade 2 listed Iona House.

The Department offers an ‘open door’ policy, in addition to organised individual interviews with the Head of Careers and Higher Education, who has many years’ experience in this area of advice and guidance. The Careers Office provides a warm and welcoming environment, with a well-equipped library, offering information on an extensive variety of careers and gap year opportunities. The higher education section includes university prospectuses, as well as a wide selection of books and leaflets.

Careers Education

Careers Education begins in Form 1 tutor periods and House assemblies as part of the College’s comprehensive pastoral programme. Thereafter, as students move up the Senior School, careers information, advice and guidance becomes more focused and tailored to the needs of specific year groups.

Form 3: GCSE Options

GCSE options are the focus of the pastoral programme in the Lent Term of Form 3. Students use Kudos, an online careers programme, to facilitate investigation of careers and support their GCSE options choice. Full guidance on GCSE subject choice is available in the booklet ‘GCSEs The Next Step’. The Head of Careers and Higher Education addresses Form 3 at relevant tutor period assemblies and invites individual students to see him at agreed lunch-times to discuss any concerns or questions they may have about their GCSE and future Sixth Form and post-eighteen options, and help them to make well-informed and realistic decisions.

The Head of Careers and Higher Education also supports the House Tutors in the pastoral programme by providing them with relevant and comprehensive resources and activities to promote discussion and reflection on such aspects as personal development, coping with transition, lifelong learning, the meaning of “work” and developing decision-making skills.

Form 4/5: Sixth Form Options

Students complete the Morrisby Profile, a battery of psychometric tests and interest questionnaire, at the end of Form 4. Individual discussions about Sixth Form options, based on the student’s Morrisby report, take place in Michaelmas Term of Form 5 with the Head of Careers and Higher Education. He can also be consulted on an ongoing individual basis throughout the two-year GCSE programme via school email, daily ‘drop-in’ lunch-time sessions or mutually agreed meetings in the Careers Office in Iona House. Full guidance on A level options at St Columba’s is available in the Sixth Form prospectus.

The Head of Careers and Higher Education also supports the House Tutors in the pastoral programme by providing them with relevant and comprehensive resources and activities to promote discussion and reflection on such aspects as personal development, coping with transition and developing decision-making skills, lifelong learning, the meaning of “work” and adapting to an ever-changing world of work.

Sixth Form: University and Other Options

Most Sixth Form students at St Columba’s progress to university after A levels. The focus of the Sixth Form careers programme is exploring higher education options, using the CourseFinder questionnaire as a resource. Alternative support is available for students considering employment, training or a further education course at eighteen. The Head of Careers and Higher Education has individual discussions with Lower Sixth students in the Lent Term about their options at eighteen and can be consulted on an ongoing basis, as required, through the Sixth Form. There is additional specialist support for students considering an Oxford or Cambridge University application.

The Head of Careers and Higher Education also supports the House Tutors in the pastoral programme by providing them with relevant and comprehensive resources and activities to promote discussion and reflection on such aspects as personal development, coping with transition and developing decision-making skills, the variety of post-eighteen options, including alternatives to higher education, higher education choices and the UCAS and applications cycle, lifelong learning, the meaning of “work” and adapting to an ever-changing world of work.

The following activities are the main elements of the Sixth Form Careers programme:

Lower Sixth

Lent Term:

  • Students consider the range of options at eighteen in small groups and then complete the CourseFinder questionnaire.
  • The Head of Sixth Form and the Head of Careers and Higher Education host an ‘Introduction to Higher Education Evening’ for Lower Sixth students and their parents.
  • Students attend a Careers Day in March with input from outside speakers.

Summer Term:

  • Lower Sixth students visit the Hertfordshire Higher Education Convention in June.
  • Students may attend university open days and taster courses as appropriate.
  • UCAS personal statement preparation begins with support from UCAS referees.
  • Lower Sixth students undertake a formal, term-time one week work experience programme.

Upper Sixth

Michaelmas Term:

  • All students participate in interview skills training and student finance / budgeting sessions.
  • UCAS applications are completed. 

Lent and Summer Terms

  • Students reply to their university offers and apply for student financial support.
  • The Head of Careers and Higher Education is available from A level results day during the summer holidays to support Upper Sixth leavers as required.

If you would like to contact the Head of Careers and Higher Education, Mr P Kelly, please email him at: kelly.p@stcolumbascollege.org