Whether they are called Ambassadors or Champions, the role they play is vital

In this first of our two part series on ambassadors or champions, we discuss the vital role department advocates have in any school or college Careers programme. Below we discuss how you can bring colleagues on board and help them embed your Careers programme into every facet of school life.

I think we can all agree that for a Careers programme to be truly outstanding, and by that we mean it has to have the maximum positive impact on young people, the programme has to be embedded into every aspect of school life. This is of course easier said than done; often we are met with opposition from over worked and over stressed staff who see Careers as another ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ initiative.

With the Government yet to produce a new or updated national Careers strategy, changing this thinking makes it all the more difficult. The recently released Skills for Jobs White Paper does set out a direction of travel but it is a far cry from what we all need. That said, the White Paper makes it very clear that Careers education is here to stay and definitely isn’t going to go the way of Personal Learning and Thinking Skills.

For a truly embedded programme there needs to be a cohesive strategic plan in place that ensures coverage across the whole school. You may have some some success with Careers making an appearance in PSHE lessons but if you want to join up the pastoral with the academic, you need to do just that. Therefore, ensuring that there is direct inclusion of Careers into short, medium and long term Schemes of Learning in all curriculum areas is essential to bridge this gap.

The teaching of literacy and numeracy is the responsibility of all teachers – we must think the same way about Careers. Being a Careers Leader may be your role but leading careers is everyone’s responsibility.

To achieve this change, the most effective and quick solution is to develop a Careers Ambassador/Champion approach with departments. The approach is simple:

  • you nominate a person in each department as someone who can take responsibility for Careers in their department.
  • if a school or department is small then you could try a faculty approach – where by some one has the purview of multiple departments

By taking this approach it means that you are able to provide targeted support and training for those with this role. Getting people of board can be tricky so we have found that the following approaches below can help. Remember, it is easier to take people with you than it is to force them against their will:

  • approach staff that new to teaching. This could be NQTs or those who are ambitious to advance their career outline the training and support on offer
  • provide them with a timeline of when you meet and the time commitments required
  • sell your Careers vision – remind them of the moral purpose
  • a subtle mention of Teachers’ Standards works well. In particular, Standard 8: Fulfil wider professional responsibilities
  • post threshold standards state: teacher’s achievements and contribution to an educational setting/s are substantial

We have provided an example Job Description of a Careers Ambassador/Champion – although having one is clearly good practice, try not to make the role appear to be too time consuming or arduous. The example below provides some suggested areas to include. It is not an exhaustive list and you probably wouldn’t want to include every function listed.

If you are concerned about what you could do in the way of training, then a starting point might be the short course Careers Leader training offered by the Careers and Enterprise Company. This course offers a window into full Careers Leader training and should not be used in lieu of the full training routes offered.

We would also point you in the direction of the FREE information events that we offer. Our recent event, designed for school leaders (Governors, SLT & Trust members), sold out quickly so please do check our social channels or subscribe to the website to be the first to hear of the next ones available.

It is worth bearing this in mind: ‘give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach them how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime’. You can’t do everything yourself – working with ambassadors/champions means that you are able to provide maximum impact in department areas and it saves you doing their work for them.

In part two of our focus on ambassadors or champions, we share a model of how you can expand this branch of support to involve all stakeholders.

UPDATE – Read part two of the Careers Ambassador series here.

Be the first to read about the model by subscribing to the website or following our us on our social channels.

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