Careers award success for Ipswich Opportunity Area school

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A high school in the Ipswich Opportunity Area where efforts are being made to drive up social mobility is celebrating after its careers provision was recognised with a prestigious award.

Stoke High School Ormiston Academy has earned a Career Mark Award, which is given to schools that can demonstrate good progress against each Gatsby benchmark of Good Career Guidance and are delivering a successful, high-standard careers programme.

Ipswich is one of 12 areas in England designated by the Department for Education as an Opportunity Area, designed to unlock the potential of England’s young people through education. The aim is for all children and young people in the area to fulfil their potential and access the opportunities available to them, regardless of their background.

Feedback from assessors noted that learners were ‘aspirational’ and that “they believed they can be anything they want to be, a message reinforced by the Principal”. Meanwhile, 90% of Year 11s felt Stoke High School had provided careers activities that have helped them prepare for their future and nearly 80% felt confident of making a good choice when they leave.

The academy was commended for the fact that “careers is indeed an all-school approach which is reflected in the ethos of the school, careers strategy and development plan and fully supported by senior leadership.” Particular credit was given to how well careers is linked to the curriculum, which assessors saw as a ‘real strength’, and they remarked on how all year groups see it as being ‘significant in widening their horizons.’

Stoke High School has invested in its careers provision in a number of ways in recent years, including securing funding to open a learner-led Community Café at the Academy to support vulnerable learners with employability skills. Students decorated the venue, planned and costed the menu, and cooked and served food to local residents.

Learners also develop further employability skills through Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, National Citizenship Service, School Council and fundraising for Children in Need and Comic Relief. In order to get a clearer idea of what options are available to them, students get the chance to meet with employers through Careers Fairs, Wednesday Working Lunch, mock interviews and CV writing workshops.

Andrew Robinson, Principal at Stoke High Ormiston Academy, said: “I’m so proud of all of our staff at Stoke High School who have worked very hard to offer our students the very best in terms of careers provision. Our priority is not just to get students through school, but to prepare them for their futures too. We’re succeeding not only in preparing them, but also in ensuring they are excited about what lies ahead and are empowered to pursue their dreams.”

Wendy Toogood, the school’s Careers Lead, said: “The pivotal point in being able to move forward with our innovative new Careers Programme was acquiring the support of our Board of Governors, which was achieved by our CEC Enterprise Coordinator and Enterprise Adviser delivering a powerful and informative CPD session to the board on the importance of careers education, information, advice and guidance.  The outcome of this event ensured strong governor support which provided the catalyst to secure the active involvement of the Senior Leadership Team in supporting and promoting the Careers Programme to all staff.

“As Careers Lead, I can now look forward to fully implementing our Programme, with the support of all stakeholders, and actively benefitting from the knowledge, guidance and connections of our Enterprise Coordinator and Enterprise Adviser to deliver impactful careers and enterprise programmes for our students.”

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership is a partner in the Ipswich Opportunity Area and its Enterprise Adviser Network works to increase employer engagement with schools and colleges in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Kayleigh Norris, Enterprise Co-ordinator matched with Stoke High, said: “Wendy Toogood is an incredibly passionate careers leader and gaining this award is a fantastic achievement and just further shows the great work that Wendy and Stoke High School have been doing within careers to help support students in learning about the world of work and raising their aspirations.”

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