01 August 2022

WINNER: Outstanding Careers Education Programme

WINNER: Outstanding Careers Education Programme

We are very proud that our Careers Education Programme has been recognised with the highest honour presented by the Dorset Careers Hub in their annual awards. The Swanage School is the winner of the award for Achievements in the Attainment of the Gatsby Benchmarks and for an Outstanding Careers Education Programme 2021/22.

Led by Mr Duke, our careers programme has evolved over the past couple of years into the innovative programme it is today. It is extremely rewarding to receive recognition that our programme is already outstanding, as further developments are planned and we know it will continue to grow yet further as it becomes ever more embedded in our Crew and pastoral systems.

Thinking about careers is an integral part of the learning experience at The Swanage School. From day one, students are encouraged to develop an aspirational mindset and, with the support of Crew Leaders and teachers, their eyes are opened to a world of possibilities with no glass ceilings.

Through our employability and careers initiatives, which are accessible across years and abilities, students:

  • develop an awareness of different ‘sectors’ of employment
  • have opportunities to hear from guest speakers and make visits to organisations that showcase different roles within those sectors
  • build an understanding of the skills and competencies required for various roles (and recognise that these may not be limited to ‘academic’)
  • research and are able to communicate the ‘next steps’ towards gaining the skills and competencies they need to meet their ambitions 
  • are provided with the tools and resources they need

On behalf of myself and the whole team, we would like to thank you for your commitment, passion and hard work, in careers education. What you do is amazing, the results and impact is fantastic, and our young people are lucky to have you on their side. [Rebecca Phillips, Strategic Lead, Dorset Careers Hub]

Our programme

Four activities form the ‘core’ of our programme. These are:

Career pathway research

Students complete a self-led investigation into an employment sector or role that is of interest to them and/or complete exploratory research, culminating in development of an action plan. All Year 11 students complete these. We have been rolling this model out to Year 9 and 10 also, focusing on ‘pathways’ rather than immediate next steps.

(Virtual) Employer Encounters

We engage with the Speakers for Schools platform, which offers a diverse and good quality range of employer ‘encounter’ experiences. Students can book and engage with (virtual) work experiences in employment sectors such as health care, construction, aerospace engineering etc. We regularly invite speakers and guests to school to share their knowledge and to inspire and motivate students. The number of online and in-person guests and visits will continue to grow and we are looking at developing a ‘bigger and better’ careers fair.

Developing skills and competencies

In Year 9 (primarily) we give multiple student-led opportunities to undertake training packages and gain recognised qualifications such as certificates in food hygiene, first aid, health & safety, hospitality, team communications and project management. A whole host of online courses are promoted on our ‘Employability through the Curriculum’ SharePoint site, which students can access. Our Race Team, for example, is run on the basis that students must complete on-line training courses prior to joining, and other clubs will increasingly follow a similar model to encourage students to gain knowledge and develop skills and competencies that will stand them in good stead for their next steps or chosen career pathway. The SharePoint site also provides information on what comes after school, such as further education and apprenticeships. CV and letter writing tools are also provided.

Extended Project Qualification

Students have the option to complete a foundation or higher level ‘Extended Project Qualification’ (EPQ) that investigates an employment-led area of interest and leads to an additional GCSE or  even an A/AS Level qualification.


Every Year 11 student receives at least one session with an external careers specialist, receiving a personalised ‘action plan’ based on their career pathway research which they present to the adviser. We are actively cascading these sessions down to other year groups as part of our overall careers support plan.

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