Research School Network: “When will I ever use this again, Miss?” Blog by Rachael Wilkinson, ELE for Carmel Research School and Careers Lead at Carmel College


“When will I ever use this again, Miss?”

Blog by Rachael Wilkinson, ELE for Carmel Research School and Careers Lead at Carmel College

by Carmel Research School
on the

As educators we have probably heard a student saying at one time but when will I ever use this again?’ and as best as we can, we try and explaining how the lesson may link to a specific career. In this blog, I’m going explore how with very little planning and changing an already rich curriculum, we can be more authentic with our students’ skills development.

It’s something which I like to place a lot of emphasis on within my lessons, as the Tees Valley has now become an exciting place to begin a career. The current levelling up agenda has led to significant funds being allocated into the area, potentially creating thousands of jobs and significantly boosting employment opportunities in the North East.

We must ensure our young people benefit from this significant financial investment into the Tees Valley area. Careers provision must be adaptable, now more so than ever, in order to offer students meaningful work experience

Implementing careers in the curriculum falls into 3 distinct areas:

- Career readiness. A clearer understanding of occupations and areas of interest, improvement of research skills when exploring potential careers and better preparedness for transition into HE, apprenticeships, or full-time work.

- Confidence building. Improvement of self-esteem, motivation and self-efficacy. We have noticed students show greater ability to face challenging situations head on and work with more autonomy on given tasks.

- Educational outcomes. Improvement in attendance, an ability to make plans and put them into effect, a greater awareness of strengths and interests and a greater understanding of what they need to do to achieve their ambitions.

Deliberate, focussed careers provision within the curriculum can clearly have very strong outcomes. This is the logic that underpins the Gatsby benchmarks, which states that our work suggests that there is no single magic bullet’ for good career guidance: it is about doing a number of things, identified in our benchmarks, consistently and well’ Gatsby (2014).

Carmel Research School is encouraging a curriculum which has strong focus on careers in which different topics and subject matter is contextualised with potential future career scenarios. I trialled some of the lessons around chromatography. The concept was based on students working for a Local Authority to identify fraudulent sweet colourings which had been impounded from a shipping container. Students were given a real life example (the Sudan III case) thus teaching chromatography took on new colour that a less career focussed lesson may not have. Engagement within practicals has always been high but the conversations and approaches students had were now different. They were contextualising the practical and beginning to apply it in a new way. They began asking questions on what else would be expected of someone working within this field, such as how much they get paid, and what qualifications were required. The lessons became far more than just chromatography as they were showing a genuine inquisitiveness into a new career field. This approach really brought chromatography to life and provided a tangible example of how a topic within a science lesson can have real life application. This raised their aspirations and widened their knowledge of some potential careers of which they were previously unaware.

By implementing something directly related to a career the impact on the students was clearly visible; within the class that was exposed to this style of teaching, over 79% of them then logged on independently to our Careers Service Platform. This was not reflected in other classes. By adding explicit career-based context, students are able to identify and understand the knowledge or skill set being developed and its practical application.

As long as it’s an issue that a career solves- go for it! This may not be the magic bullet for ‘’when will I ever use this again, Miss?’’ but at least we are presenting them with an authentic representation of real-world scenarios that gives students a much more rounded view on potential career paths.

Written by Rachael Wilkinson ELE for Carmel Research School

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