Senior Assistant Headteacher, John Ramsdale, leads the school’s careers programme and noticed the need to promote apprenticeships when he considered how many students opted for sixth form, without considering what is best for them.
John explained: “Some of the best sixth forms in the country are on our doorstep, providing genuinely incredible academic courses for our young people. For many years that meant young people would go down that pathway as standard.”
John says this was a problem as it meant students did know about alternative routes, and they started to see an increasing number of former students drop out of sixth form.
Alongside the school’s career’s adviser, John began a three-part approach to drive up excitement about apprenticeships, and it worked.
He said: “Apprenticeships at our school have moved from something people are dimly aware of to having complete parity of esteem. We’ve moved from 3% of our students going down an apprenticeship route in 2019 to 10% in 2020. But more than that, 100% of our students now go on to a positive, sustained destination after they leave us.”
The school’s first strategy was to create universal knowledge about apprenticeships, so they “carpet bombed” year 10 and 11 students with information, including which employers offered them, how to apply and stories of ex-students.
All years also have assemblies on apprenticeships, whilst school career days include talks from ex-students who are now apprentices, and businesses who recruit them.
Secondly, the school increased the support available to students applying for apprenticeships.
Whenever an employer is recruiting, the school contact the target year group, invite parents to come and discuss it, and help students with the application, answering any questions and providing “as much guidance as possible.”
“We didn’t just want to talk about apprenticeships and then leave it at that”, John said.
Finally, John meets with Heads of Year, the school’s pupil premium coordinator and the Careers Adviser to identify which students might need additional careers support, tailoring the programme to them.
He added: “Ultimately we want every one of our young people to go down the right path for them, whatever it might be.”