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March / April 2022 Blog

You will no doubt be aware from all the posts on Facebook about the wide variety of additional learning activities that allow for real depth and breadth across our curriculum for students of all ages. To talk about all of them in the blog would be a little like writing War and Peace, so I have decided that as I had promised in the last blog to write up the work experience for Year 10, I would focus on the opportunities that have been provided by the College around careers education and progression to further and high education post 16.

Crookhorn work experience took place for all Year 10 students in the last two weeks of the Spring 1. Despite all the complications around trying to get 167 students out on work placement during a pandemic, the impossible was achieved and all the hard work and angst over last minute cancellations was so incredibly worthwhile as you can see from the collated feedback from the student evaluations completed afterwards, below:

Apart from 2 students who had COVID and one who had to come into College due to a broken foot, all other students attended their work placements. Some students enjoyed it so much, they stayed on at their placement during the half-term, another student has been offered 1 additional week at the end of the summer term and there is potential for 3 further students to have secured apprenticeships post 16.

Mrs Brown, who masterminded the whole experience, had some fantastic feedback from employers as you can see from the quotes below:

Jack. W at ICEE Ltd: Hard-working, self-motivated and keen to learn new skills.

Oscar. J at St Thomas More’s Primary School: Brilliant, worked well with students, is very confident and thoughtful!

Elise. S at Cherry Park Nursery: Brilliant throughout work experience. Got fully involved in working with the children, being very creative with them and learned new skills in managing challenging behaviour in young children.

George. H at WASP Collins Aerospace: Exceeded in Solidworks CAD working and soldering; skills learned at school.

Harvey-Lee. W at Serco: It really has been a pleasure having him here. He’s taken a keen interest in everything we’ve shown him and has consistently asked intelligent questions showing a good understanding of the multiple areas. He represents the kind of individual that Serco would seek to employ and invest in, and I think he has a bright future ahead of him.

On Tuesday 1st March, first day after the half-term, we welcomed back the Year 10s to their debrief morning, where they were able to reflect on their placement and focus on what transferable skills they had learned. As part of the morning Mr Collins and I did a year group assembly encouraging the students to focus on all the positives of the two weeks, and how they can now make the most of what they learnt during work experience with regard to growing maturity and the need to set and work towards personal goals.

I do feel very strongly that this year group have suffered quite acutely from the impact of the pandemic, and we are now very keen to mitigate some of the negative effects of the COVID years on them as learners and as individuals, by striving to provide as much positive input and focus as we can. As a result, during the rest of this academic year, we are planning various different follow-up activities to build on the positivity created by work experience.

So far Year 10 have subsequently had the input from MADE with regard to their ‘study skills’ and how to deploy different memory techniques to embed knowledge in the long-term memory. This has been followed up with some more bespoke sessions for about 15 Year 10 students who struggle with knowing where to start with the concept of independent work and have a serious lack confidence with learning. These sessions have been run by myself, Mr Collins, Mrs Hope and Mr Brunink and have been practically based using a science topic which needs to be revised for the Year 10 exams, alongside the resources and support that is available on its learning via the class course page for that topic.

Over the next term we have planned in the Year 10 taster day at HSDC (Havant and South Downs College), where students will be able to try out courses they are interested in doing post 16. We then have a Portsmouth University residential visit planned, to give some Year 10 students a real taste of what life is like at university to hopefully inspire these students to purse their learning through to higher education. We will also start the Ambitions programme, which is run in-house by Mrs Mack, to help those students who have low aspirations at the moment, focus on what their ambition might be in life and plan the route to achieving it.

As part of preparing Year 11 for the transition to post 16 learning, we had the National Citizenship Service (NCS) in to present to the students just before the Easter break. The NCS run courses that are specifically designed to enhance many of the skills students are going to require once they leave school, through their social interactions and team building projects. It's an amazing opportunity for them to add an additional layer to their CV and give them the chance to stand out from other competition. NCS also gives students the opportunity to engage in a wide range of team building exercises and challenges at their fantastic water park facilities down at Land and Wave, Dorset, during the one-week residential. Crookhorn students have previously grabbed this opportunity in high numbers and have benefited massively from their engagement.

Our KS4 students are certainly not the only ones who have had significant input and support from the Careers team here over the last two months; it has been pretty full on for Year 8 and 9 too.

Throughout the Spring term, 4 groups of 15 Year 9 students have benefited from the Marginal Gains programme run by Southern Universities Network. The programme consists of 3 workshops each with its own focus:

Workshop 1 - Marginal Gains – The theory, practice, and application to the life and education of young people.

Workshop 2 - Goal Setting – Understanding the theory and how to apply the principles in a practical way. Using the steps to success, we will focus on ‘making a plan’ & ‘getting it to work’.

Workshop 3 - Resilience & Growth Mind-Set – Supporting young people to become more resilient learners. By revisiting the steps to success, we will focus on the concept of ‘sticking to it’, in line with Margin Gains and the concept of 1% improvements.

The key purpose has been to engage the students in understanding that everything can be achieved in small steps, and we do this in Year 9, to help shape the right attitude to learning for the GCSE courses from the outset in Year 10.

Right at the beginning of March we hosted an employer exhibition for Year 8 students where they had the chance to interview different employers to find out why transferable skills are important and to hear directly from apprentices who are working within the companies who attended. There was a good range of employers represented including Rolls-Royce, Comserve, NHS, Serco, ICEE, Hair Ott, Jackson and Green Accountants and Mulberrybush Nursery. It proved to be a fantastic day and well-timed in helping Year 8 to broaden their career ideas and their understanding of Post 16 pathways ahead of their options interviews which followed on in the weeks immediately after this.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the event for the students was being able to sit in a Rolls-Royce car and marvel at the workmanship that goes into a premier product like that. I think we were able to dispel the slight exaggeration that each car mat was worth £10,000, but there was unanimous agreement amongst staff that you would always be worried about where to park it in the Sainsbury’s carpark. It was also great for us to see ex-students Marcus W and Megan V who are thriving on their apprenticeship programmes and hopefully will become the latest addition to our alumni gallery soon.

Following straight on from this we had National Careers week, which Mrs Mack made sure was jammed packed with opportunities for our Year 8 and 9 students and which as you will be able to tell from some of the comments I have included, the students really appreciated.

On the Tuesday, fifty of our Year 9's ventured to HSDC to visit the Havant Federation of Schools Careers Fair. They had the opportunity to explore Post-16 options by talking to the exhibitors and gaining an understanding of the requirements of different courses and also of different career paths.

On the Wednesday thirteen Year 8 students, who are all looking to follow a career path in health or science took part in a taster day at Portsmouth University. The sessions here included X-Ray Detectives, Healthcare Secret Service and Kids saves Lives, where they learnt CPR and how to use a defibrillator. Again, the opportunity that this event provided was very well received by the students as you can see from the comments below:

"I really enjoyed the Paramedic Science because we got to learn a lot about the jobs they do and how things work (like the defib). It was really easy to understand." - Amy. E

"The best part of the day was learning how to do CPR and how to help someone breathe. I would defiantly recommend this to students looking into any health care roles." - Tayla. H

"Today was really fun and gave us a good idea of what university is like, and it has made me more open to the idea of going to university in the future." - Chloe. B

Finally, on the Thursday, as part of the College's continued focus to promote the diversity and range of STEM careers, Year 8 students took part in an exciting robotics workshop, hosted by Bournemouth University. They worked in small teams to programme and customise their own LEGO EV3 robots and have them complete a series of tasks on a track. The workshop combined design, engineering and programming with teamwork and focused heavily on the skill shortage in the UK surrounding subjects relating to computing, engineering, and cyber-security. The activities helped the students develop a number of important transferrable skills, such as teamwork and problem-solving, which they will hopefully be able to utilise going forward, in their learning and in the wider world.

"It was a really enjoyable and fun experience and I really liked programming the robots to do different tasks." - Savannah. W

"I really enjoyed completing all the tasks as a team and learning more about coding." -Lucy. H

"It's not impossible. It just takes determination." - Ben. A

Following on from National Careers Week, a small number of Year 9 students attended a campus visit to the University of Southampton and beat 5 other schools to first place, in a challenge based around identifying transferable skills. During the afternoon they took part in a Dragon's Den style challenge, presenting their design of a careers-based app to a panel of judges.

Feedback from the day included:

"The day was filled with activities and sights I had never experienced before; it was completely new to me."

"This was a fantastic day with lots of fun activities and an amazing tour of the campus. Thank you for this opportunity."

“I really enjoyed everything we did, especially listening to the alumni talk. I also enjoyed the 'Unloc' activities because they helped us to work as a team, and we won! It helped me to realise what university is like and how you can be independent. I hope I can co to the University of Southampton when I'm older."

Aside from the bespoke events, this second half of the Spring Term also saw all 184 Year 8 students have a 1 to 1 interview about their option choices for Year 9 and some Year 9’s were offered further option interviews for their final GCSE choices going into Year 10. As we now start to prepare the timetable and staffing for next year, it is fantastic to see that the option numbers across our broad curriculum are increasingly balanced, and I am particularly delighted with the increase in popularity of the technology subjects, specifically of engineering, construction, and graphics and also of our computing subjects - both being increasingly represented with a balance of gender.

I am sure you will agree that the work put in by the Careers department at Crookhorn, is outstanding as evidenced by just one half a terms activities as described above. The work done with the students embodies the commitment and subsequently, the ethos of the College to develop the whole child and prepare them thoroughly for life beyond secondary education.

I am so proud of what we achieve with our students and what they go on to be as the next generation!