What are employers looking for? What makes a good interview? What career paths can I go down? These are just a few of the questions Sixth Form students had answered when they took part in Progression Week, an informative programme designed to encourage the students to explore their strengths, weaknesses and future careers. Although the idea of the future is incredibly daunting for students, Progression Week provided them with the opportunity to think over and discuss their ideas and plans in a familiar, informal and comfortable environment.
The week began with a talk from StudyFlex, with visitors Jeff and Mary talking to the students about employability and interview skills in an informative session that found the students acting out mock interviews, doing the running man and throwing tennis balls to one another; all of the activities helped the students improve their interview skills and many emerged from the session feeling more confident about their future university and job interviews. Other sessions throughout the week included a visit from ex-Rainford Students who wowed the Sixth Formers with tales of their university experiences. Daniel Webster, a student in year twelve, said he found this session ‘very useful and helpful’ and that it was fantastic to talk to young people who had recently been on the same journey the current students will embark upon next year.
Following this, the week was filled with sessions lead by employers from all walks of life, including a magazine editor, police officer, actress, midwife and precision engineer. Liesl Chesworth, another student in year twelve, remarked that, as she wants to go into journalism, she found meeting a magazine editor incredibly helpful because it was relevant for her career. One of the best things about these sessions was that each student had a personalised time table filled with sessions that were relevant to their courses or future career, showing how much the Sixth Form staff wants each of their students to succeed in fulfilling their individual aspirations.
The teachers of the future were also well-informed during the week thanks to a speaker from Edge Hill University in the Tomorrow’s Teachers sessions, which were attended by a large number of students. One of the year twelve participants, Tanya Lyth, said “the speaker really helped me to understand how to plan and spend my time effectively whilst teaching”, calling it an “eye-opening” experience.
Elsewhere, the sound of tears drifted down the S Block hallways, though they were only from cutting onions. The student cookery session gave students the chance to burn mince, spill cheesy sauce and make several attempts to turn on the gas as they were instructed in how to make a lasagne. While some students resorted to their pre-prepared lasagne kits from the Co-op, most came out of the session feeling hopeful that they would not starve once they reached university and proudly wielded their metal containers of meat, sauce and pasta sheets.
However, the week wasn’t all fun and games. Sessions on student finance and personal finance from Barclays informed the students on the need for budgeting and an exercise on this helped the students see how they might be able to save money effectively when they attend university. The Sixth-Formers began to realise the importance of money and that the Bank of Mum and Dad won’t be able to support them forever.
Another dose of reality was served in the personal statement sessions and UCAS registration as it began to hit the students that college life would soon come to an end. It was slightly bittersweet as the students filled in the online form on what courses they wanted to study when they reached higher education and looked back on their days studying for GCSEs only last year. As Progression Week drew to a close on Friday 26th June, the students’ heads were filled with information, advice and the decisions they would soon have to make for their future, with a mixture of excitement, fear and anxiety charging the atmosphere amongst the crowd of 2015 Rainford Sixth Formers. No matter what they were feeling, however, the students agreed with Miss Lyth’s earlier statement that this experience had indeed been “eye-opening”. Catherine Benbow, the post 16 Progress Leader who helped to organise the events, felt it was a “huge success”, saying the following about the exciting week: “the guest speakers were so diverse and inspirational, really lighting a fire underneath many of our Sixth Formers. The week brought some much needed knowledge, experience and answers to our students on the subject of careers. This came just at the right time for the Year 12 work experience fortnight, as well as students’ applications to university and future jobs due in the new academic year. It's definitely something we intend to repeat every year - it was fantastic”.
By Charlotte Hibbert