Careers Education & Guidance (CEIAG)
East SILC Careers Programme
East SILC (Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre) is a generic multi-site school for learners with SEND in the East of Leeds. As a generic special school, we aim to meet the needs of a wide range of students, including students with ASC, complex and multiple learning needs and SEMH.
East SILC has a strongly developing careers programme that has a core focus on progressing the individual needs of each student and seeks to best prepare all of our learners for their individual pathway into adult life. We believe that careers-related learning chimes very much with our ethos and intentions. Careers-related learning is relevant and progressive for our students. From this point, it has become one of the core areas of the curriculum, particularly when focusing on the ‘preparation for adulthood’ element within our learning.
Careers-related learning aims to provide the learner with the skills and knowledge required to equip them for the labour market post education. It should intend to provide the individual learner with guidance on how to greater understand themselves and the skills set that they have in order to assess what their realistic next steps could be. With this, an understanding of individual strengths and areas to develop should also arise.
Alongside the focus on understanding of self, there should also be enhanced learning opportunities that focus on the world of work and the opportunities that are available therein. Insight into what it means to have a career as well as the variety of jobs and the routes into them can help to motivate and prepare learners for the future. It is essential to look at both the individual and the wider market in careers education in order to be able to start identifying matches between the two, as certain skills, interests and abilities will lend themselves to being relevant to certain areas of employment.
Alongside the matching of the two identified foci it is also key to develop skills that will make learners more prepared for employment, through the exploration of advice, information, planning and preparation. With a balance of these three identified areas - development of self-awareness, understanding of the world of work and progression of employability skills, learners can be expected to be appropriately educated to make steps towards being prepared for employment.
Within the setting of a generic special school such as East SILC there can be a greater variance of what you could expect careers education to look like, although all should still hold central to the notion of preparing learners for adult life. A focus on making steps towards independence is pivotal to all our students and so the inclusion of this in all areas of the curriculum is essential and allows all students to gain access to some elements of careers education. Students all have an EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan) which identifies aims and aspirations for themselves. These can form the basis of the development and exploration of understanding of self that is key to career-related learning. In addition to this, all students should have access to learning about the world of work, often through practical experience. As students gain greater independence and experience of work, students should also have access to opportunities that help them to prepare for employment, through identified lessons and accreditation, as well as through a curriculum that has employability at the core of its content, particularly in Key Stage 5.
Key Stage 3 and 4 students access annual careers assemblies in order to support their understanding of careers, as well as to help them set targets to work towards. They also access a ‘Preparation for Adulthood’ course from ASDAN, as well as a ‘Foodwise’ course; both of these further embed a focus on developing skills for employment, independence and adulthood. Students in these key stages that require further input into careers learning will also attend targeted weekly careers lessons. Once students are accessing post 16 learning, stakeholders including themselves and their parents, are able to shape the curriculum in order to create bespoke learning opportunities. The majority of students with moderate learning difficulties (MLD) aspire to go into employment at some point in their adult life, and so with the aspirations identified within their EHCPs and the curriculum shaped according to their intentions, careers learning is very much a part of the post 16 curriculum. With this in place, MLD students are very much motivated to learn, particularly work-related content, to make appropriate steps to becoming employable. Students on this independent pathway will encounter a range of work experience opportunities, including offsite experience and internships where possible. Students with more severe learning difficulties (SLD) also access work related learning, but in a much-adapted model. With this in mind, when consulting with stakeholders about how careers should look to these students, it is then identified that these students should develop skills to further their independence. These skills will be bespoke, and need to be relevant to the individual, such as through home management, development of social skills, meeting personal needs. Each student has their own individual programme of developing independence. In addition to this, it is felt that all of these learners also have a right to learn about what jobs are out there in the labour market. Practical knowledge of jobs is important to preparing our students for the wider world. Experiencing relevant practical work experience, such as completing tasks in school such as catering, recycling, grounds maintenance, deliveries, etc. is engaging and essential to students’ learning too. It is this overarching student-led focus that ensures that careers learning is integral to the curriculum content at the school.
In order to quality assure the work we do, we follow the guidelines identified in the Gatsby Benchmarks and strive, through the use of the Compass + Tool, to meet these benchmarks. We complete a Compass assessment termly, and now consistently attain a high score in this. We are also able to measure progress and impact through the use of the Compass + tool, as well as Start U-Explore, two online systems where students can explore careers opportunities and capture evidence of careers work experienced. We have completed Stage 1 of the Quality in Careers Standard and are using this standard to further develop our careers offer. Students in Key Stage 4 and 5 are able to complete accreditation that matches the level of careers learning they are accessing and some, significantly, can complete a course of ASDAN Employability, offered at levels Entry 2 up to Level 2. We also feel that the impact of our programme is very much measured by the increasing variation in positive destinations for our learners. Our students can access a range of post-school colleges and courses, as well as some learners entering paid employment upon leaving us. Our careers input has a significant effect on these destinations and we pride ourselves on ensuring that our learners move on to the best next steps when they move on.
We have a small Careers team in School comprising a team leader as well as an external Careers Advisor, a Job Coach and admin support, as well as some teaching staff representation from Key Stages 3 and 4. All students from Year 8 have an annual careers interview or meeting, but each of these is bespoke to best meet the age and need of the group or individual. Years 8-10 have class meetings, where the idea of careers and employment is introduced and their aspirations are identified. These aspirations are documented and used to help set future targets. Year 11s onwards have their own individual meetings. The majority of students will access meetings with the careers advisor, some supported with familiar members of staff, some with Makaton signing or symbols. Some will not require this support. Students with greater sensory needs will participate in a meeting with the careers lead, their parents and staff who are very familiar with them, where we can identify what careers learning will look like for them in the coming years. All of these meetings are completed in advance of their EHCP meetings, so that careers learning, and individual aspirations can be instrumental in setting targets for the future. In this way, careers education helps students set their own targets for life. Parents have a greater insight into our careers provision through this process, and the careers programme supports the annual EHCP review, thus embedding careers provision into each learner’s wider provision.
Staff are given regular careers updates through training sessions as part of our annual training cycle. Employers will access our programme through interfacing with the careers team, who will help them to develop their understanding of our specific provision. As mentioned throughout this summary of careers, parents are able to access the careers programme through attending the careers meetings, EHCP review and annual conversations with the careers lead. They are also encouraged to attend meetings with post-school providers and careers fairs that are offered throughout the academic year.
Anyone that is interested in our careers programme is always welcome to discuss further with the careers lead.
Careers Lead, Post 16 Phase Leader
Interim Assistant Headteacher for Preparation for Adulthood
East SILC John Jamieson School & Technology College
Hollin Hill Drive| Leeds | LS8 2PW