Sarah leads the careers and enterprise team at Horizon Community College, South Yorkshire, and is a member of the leadership team. Prior to joining in April 2018, she spent 26 years in private-sector business.
“The Gatsby Benchmarks are ambitious and will probably be part of Ofsted criteria going forward.
I think that’s a good thing, because although some schools have always seen the natural partnership between soft and academic skills in building rounded individuals, many haven’t; teachers are heavily targeted on grades and progression, so it’s easy to become blinkered.
I’m not teaching, so I can devote 100% of my time to a non-academic curriculum
I was lucky to join a school whose senior team sets a lot of store by work-readiness and could see the benefits of having a careers leader able to complement the skills already in the leadership team, and support members.
I’m not teaching, so I can devote 100% of my time to a non-academic curriculum. I get out, I network. I still have links with business (I’m chair of Barnsley’s ‘More and Better Jobs’ task force) and I have a hard-working team. This year, we’ve put in a non-academic curriculum that shadows and mirrors the academic curriculum, working closely with academic staff.
Instilling work readiness in students
Our role is to instil work readiness in students, but also to give them a thirst for learning and to show them the opportunities out there. I want a young person’s journey through this school to be about informed choices and partnerships with academic staff – not ending up somewhere by default.
For us, a meaningful employer encounter is one where a student comes away having experienced what that industry is about, the opportunities, and how to get into it. It could be a work placement, a day in a business or even an hour speaking to an employee.
The work landscape is changing and we need to help our students navigate it. I’m excited to be at the vanguard of this new careers agenda, using the talents and skills I’ve learned throughout my life.”