"The best way to predict the future is to create it"
- Abraham Lincoln
- Dr. Pat Walsh (Head of Department)
- Mrs. Joan Kelly (Employability)
CEIAG is based in a suite of rooms around 126 including office and two interview rooms.
The Aims of the AGS Careers Department
To enable our pupils to:
- Make informed decisions about their future career pathways
- Become more curious, strategic and informed about the opportunities beyond the school gate
- Acquire a more expansive, creative and ambitious outlook when researching and developing a Personal Career Plan
- Add value to their Personal Profile and effectively market themselves in oral, written and challenge-based contexts
- Information and guidance to pupils and parents in relation to subject choices, Further and Higher Education, and other leavers’ options
- Training and practice in compiling CVs, Application Forms, Interview Skills and online UCAS Applications
- Specific guidance for Medicine, Veterinary and Dentistry applicants and for Oxbridge candidates
- Support for students applying for highly competitive courses and courses that require a portfolio of work
- Close cooperation with the SENCO to assist pupils who have additional learning needs
- Information relating to student finance
- A secure structure for Work Experience to be delivered in a meaningful manner
- Up-to-date Labour Market Information/NI Skills Barometer
- Advice and assistance to pupils, parents and teachers on careers related matters
- Support for subject teachers to embed Employability across the curriculum
The Careers Programme in the Junior School is a key element of the Learning for Life and Work programme known as Employability. The Employability strand is taught in a 12-week course and deals with:
- Introduction to Employability
- Working in the Local and Global Community
- Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Skills
- Option Choices for KS4
The initial priority is to inform and excite pupils about the opportunities and challenges beyond the school gate, in the local and global economy. As we approach the key transition phase of Year 10 the focus shifts to helping pupils to make informed GCSE subject choices.
The Careers Programme in the Middle School is also an element of the Learning for Life and Work programme known as Employability.
In Year 11 the course is 12 weeks long and deals with:
- Introduction to Employability
- Working in the Local and Global Community
- Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Skills
In Year 12 the course is 12 weeks long and deals with:
- Developing a Personal Career Plan
- Identifying and developing qualities and skills (Personal Profiling)
- Action Planning
- Careers research
- Matching Skill Profiles to jobs
- Further and Higher Education
- Routes of Entry
- Option Choices for A-Levels, BTECs and further study
- What employers want
- CVs, Application Forms and interview skills
In Year 13, students receive two periods of Careers Education each week. Lessons are based through Careers Planner software to assist research, development and organization of CV writing and personal statement creation.
Year 13 students:
- Research various third-level education options.
- (These include: universities in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the USA and Europe; Apprenticeships and Company School Leavers’ Programmes; Belfast Met and SERC; CAFRE; Institutes of Technology in the Republic of Ireland; Business Start-Ups; and Gap Years.)
- Revise their CV
- Prepare for a mock interview
- Work with others in group work
- Research Labour Market Information (LMI)/NI Skills Barometer
- Benefit from a range of visiting speakers
- Formally plan and report on their work placement
- Compose a Personal Statement
- Receive training in applying through UCAS
Students have access to ongoing careers advice from Mrs Kelly, Dr. Walsh and the Careers Advisor. There is also additional support available for students applying for entry to other very competitive courses (including Teaching, Social Work, Nursing and Art College). Towards the end of the year, students begin their online UCAS Application and receive training in UCAS Apply.
In Year 14, students are given the opportunity to attend an Open Day at Queen’s University, and Ulster University. There are 2 designated Careers periods for this Year group. A team of over 20 UCAS Reference Writers has been trained to provide ongoing help and support for Year 14 students. These teacher mentors typically assist students who are applying for courses connected to their subject area.
In Year 13, pupils are afforded the opportunity to sample the world of work. This placement provides a worthwhile insight into a working environment and also fosters greater understanding between school and businesses. Pupils observe working relationships and structures in action. This is an essential element to successful Career Planning. Mr. Toner organizes a team of staff to visit or phone placement providers to monitor and assess progress. Students keep a diary of their work placement and write a report when they return to school.
Mock Interview Evening
This provides our Year 13 students with their second taste of ‘real life’ as local employers and professionals give up their time to provide an excellent interview experience in line with current recruitment trends. Students are carefully coached in advance. Verbal feedback is provided and a written report is given to students to help them to review their technique prior to future interviews. We have an excellent group of 50 interviewers who work alone or in pairs and, as a result, we can often match our students to the job/specialist areas of our interviewers. The support from the local community is second to none.
Assumption CEIAG Department organizes a bi-annual Careers Convention featuring around 100 employers, higher and further education providers and careers services. The next Convention is scheduled for February 2017. This successful event has been a staple part of Careers education at AGS for more than a decade.
The vast majority of students in Assumption will apply to university; as a result we have an excellent, well-organised and successful UCAS support system. Year 13 students receive information and guidance on applying through UCAS and writing Personal Statements. They also carry out independent research on universities and courses that may be of interest to them. Year 13 students attend a UCAS Registration Day in which they register online and formally begin their UCAS application. Parents are invited to a UCAS Information meeting to ensure that they remain fully involved in what are life-changing decisions for the students.
Completion of their UCAS Application is therefore a priority for students during their summer vacation. This ensures that they are ready to submit their application for the final checks at the start of Year 14. Students are encouraged to use their free time to research courses and institutions, refine their Personal Statement and complete all details on the UCAS form. The school’s Senior Leadership Team and over 20 teachers are actively committed to this process writing references, interviewing students and refining the end product for UCAS application.
Extra Preparation For Oxbridge and Med/Dentistry/Vet Candidates
From the start of Year 13, prospective Oxbridge and Med/Dentistry/Vet candidates receive assistance. Assumption is also currently exploring new ways to raise the aspirations of particularly gifted pupils at an earlier age. Gifted and talented students are encouraged to engage in representative events to attend the Politics/Current Affairs Society meetings and events.
External specialists are brought into the school to prepare Oxbridge and Med/Dentistry/Vet candidates for interview. Students who take part find it to be an immensely useful experience. This initiative has now been expanded to assist applicants to Nursing, Social Work and Teaching courses – all highly competitive fields.
Careers Guidance Interviews
In Year 12 every pupil receives a Careers Guidance Interview. Year 14s are also given this option. Pupils have the opportunity to:
- Discuss their individual needs and subject choices
- Research their career using ICT and/or Literature
- Focus upon their own personal skills and qualities
- Recognise the skills they need to develop
- Seek advice and carry out research on Further & Higher Education courses
In Sixth Form, different members of staff interview students at various stages throughout their two years of A-Level study. Our Careers Advisers will never tell a pupil what they should do for a career; they will simply point them in the right direction in order to help them to make informed choices. Pupils are encouraged to take responsibility for their own future by carrying out individual research and keeping abreast of changes in courses and entry requirements. This is an important skill that our pupils continue to use after they leave school. Careers Education and Guidance is about preparing pupils for what comes next and encouraging them to take their place in the modern world.
In response to current Labour Market Information and government guidelines, the Careers Department promotes the value of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as attractive and vital career pathways for many pupils. The Invest NI website identifies growth areas in our regional economy (including the Agri-Food Sector, Renewable Energy, Finance, Tourism, Small Businesses, the Life Sciences, the Creative Industries and Software Development). There is a very high uptake for STEM subjects in Assumption, but the Careers Department is trying to encourage pupils to become more discerning in regard to the STEM pathways that they hope to pursue.
STEM departments invite a range of speakers into school and students often take part in Sentinus programmes in relation to Engineering and Computer Programming. A number of teachers have also participated in Teacher-in-Industry taster days in various STEM industries.
Some Other Valuable Curriculum Areas
Our focus is on ‘Every Teacher a Careers Teacher’ and individual Departments are responsible for promoting careers and their subject areas as career choices.
Students in Assumption are encouraged to take a balanced approach when making their subject choices. The business world is demanding more linguists and a foreign language is viewed as very useful if a pupil is interested in mastering computer programming. Literacy and communication skills are also highly valued in the workplace and traditional subjects (including English Literature, History, Geography and Religious Studies) develop these transferable skills. Assumption also offers a broad selection of applied subjects that are popular with many pupils and are relevant to a wide range of career pathways.
The school has a proven record of creative and artistic departments that provide students with a superb platform for a career within the Creative Arts.
Ballynahinch Area Learning Community And Careers
Careers teachers and advisers from throughout the BLC meet several times a year to share good practice and coordinate some of our activities. Very strong relationships have been forged and the over-arching aim is to share knowledge, resources and expertise for the collective benefit of all of the young people of the Ballynahinch area.
The BLC has promoted joint events and is engaged in multi-school CEIAG training for teachers at present. It makes sound economic sense to share the expense of interview workshops and other employability initiatives amongst all of the interested stakeholders.