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Career Academies UK

aspire... accelerate... achieve...

transform a young person's life chances through learning

Tytherington High School

David Coppock

We launched the programme here in September 2006.  We've gone from seeing all the Career Academy experiences listed on paper to the reality.  It's incredibly positive and on a completely different level from any other course in our sixth form.

For Unit 2 on Personal Finance, Cheshire Building Society delivered two Guru Lectures in the classroom and a workshop at their training centre. All the students got distinctions in that coursework; our first taste of the link between the Career Academy model and academic achievement.  Not surprisingly, we'll be doing more of that in future!  The quality of what's been provided by all our business supporters has been excellent. 

Employers have been engaged with our Career Academy from the start.  We've got an active Local Advisory Board with representatives from Cheshire Building Society, AstraZeneca and Royal London as well as other local businesses and entrepreneurs who are all integral to the success of our Career Academy.  Our students are building strong relationships with their individual Partners in Business (mentors).  So they feel really supported with their coursework and have been able to produce a professional CV.  It's helped me too; I'm no longer the only source of advice for the class.  They even went out bowling as a group with AstraZeneca.

They're getting a rounded view of employers and it's developing their social skills too.  The November visit to Career Academies UK's student conference was an excellent opportunity; most hadn't visited London before.

Locally, they've met the Chief Executive of Cheshire Building Society - our students and our Local Advisory Board were invited to share their suite at local football and rugby matches.  That's one way to introduce the concept of corporate hospitality!  There are employer benefits too. The students worked with the Cheshire on designing a new student account and generally help their employees relate better to their age group.

One of the highlights of our Career Academy so far is the six-week paid internships students undertook last summer with employers such as AstraZeneca, BUPA, Lloyds TSB, Sodexo, Cheshire Peaks and Plains Housing Association and Cheshire Building Society.  The students came back to school extremely motivated with regained focus and a sense of direction.  The experience really transformed their confidence.  One female student was full of ‘I cant's' before she went on her internship.  When I went out to visit her during the six weeks she couldn't believe what she'd actually been able to achieve.

The placements were varied with staged activities that developed the students; putting them under the right levels of stress to give them a real insight into the world of work.  One student who was initially interested in Finance got to spend some time in Human Resources - now she aspires to work in that area one day. The feedback from employers was very positive too.  They certainly felt the internships were worthwhile and have offered to take students again next year.

It's not just the employer collaboration that's making the difference for us. The Career Academy has increased collaboration between local schools and colleges; a key objective under the banner of the Macclesfield & Bollington Education Improvement Partnership.  It's enabled us to offer the Career Academy to all students in Macclesfield, not just those from our school.  We extended our Local Advisory Board to become a joint initiative with a new Career Academy in Business and Marketing & Communications locally at All Hallows Catholic High School.  We also have students from Macclesfield College accessing the Career Academy at our school.

In the last year using this partnership approach, we launched a Career Academy in ICT alongside the Academy of Finance and Academy of Marketing & Communications.  Student interest across the town is continuing to grow, so this is definitely the way forward.