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Taking a whole-college approach to achieving good quality benchmarks

Case study: Sunderland College take a whole-college approach to achieving good quality benchmarks
 
Aim: To put in place a whole-college approach to careers programming, impacting upon all benchmarks.
 
Following a pilot in 2018, Sunderland College delivered their ‘Meet and Exceed’ programme to cover their three campuses for 2019, which supports the college’s wider approach to careers. 
Each term has a different theme with Autumn 2019 focused on Career Goal setting, the aim being to drive the importance of careers and employability skill development through the implementation of a whole-college approach to careers.
 
The planning process takes place a term before the Meet and Exceed sessions go live. This encourages a collaborative approach through engaging a range of staff from both Curriculum and Student Support teams, for example, progression tutors, student engagement/enrichment team, curriculum staff and HE transition teams. This cross-cutting working group is co-ordinated centrally by the Director of Student Experience who is also the Careers Leader.

Students and staff attend the college week as normal but with a timetable of activity focused upon career awareness and development. During Term One’s activity, 4000 students on the 16-19 study programme and over 300 parents engaged in the ‘Meet and Exceed’ sessions, an increase of 40% from the pilot owing to offering twilight sessions.

Over 50 interactive workshop sessions were offered during the week across the three campuses, delivered by College alumni and employers on specific curriculum areas ranging from creative industries, health, sport, energy, hospitality through to motor vehicle and business.

In addition, higher education sessions relating to UCAS applications, Oxford University application sessions, finance and parent engagement took place alongside motivational, empowering, resilience and goal-setting careers workshops delivered by external stakeholders. These were complemented by internal Careers team sessions focused on interviews, career goals and CV development. This was over and above a range of external employer site visits which took place during the week, career scavenger hunt games and themed career movie and popcorn events.
 
In advance of the Meet and Exceed week, all students had participated in a focused one-to-one discussion with either their curriculum teacher or their progression tutor, which resulted in 2500 students engaging in and benefiting from intensive career activities tailored to their individual needs. In addition, drop in interviews were offered and guidance interviews were made available during the week.
 
Together with driving the careers agenda through the adoption of a whole-college approach, the delivery of Meet and Exceed sessions across the three campuses also fostered a community of learning. For example, individual students were encouraged to sign up independently to workshops outside of their normal subject peer groups and at different campuses alongside those specific sessions relevant to curriculum areas.

This was the first time the College has adopted this approach at such scale and given 100% of students participated, the whole college approach and variety of activities appears to be a recipe for success.

Vital ingredients that would make this activity successful if replicated by others:
• Agreement on theme and outcomes
• Collaborative planning and making sure there is a point of contact within each faculty/curriculum area.
• Agreement of a budget
• Running the sessions across a number of days and campuses to provide flexibility
• Student input and preparation prior to the events
 
Possible challenges to consider:
• Some areas struggled to complete one-to-ones within the allocated time (particularly in Sixth Forms where students have less contact per subject area). This was revisited to ensure these were planned and organised prior to Meet and Exceed and preparation done in advance.
 
For more information please contact Ruth Magnus, Director of Student Services ([email protected])