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In conversation with Sian Browne, Head of Innovation and School to Works Lead at EY Foundation, about the progress of the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot

I’ve just returned from my latest visit to the North East to see, in person, the impact the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is having in our participating schools.

I can’t believe the first term has finished and we are well into term two! It was fantastic to see how the programme is already having an impact, with some terrific stories emerging from the 70 schools taking part.

We’re delivering the pilot in partnership with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP). The aim is to test how the eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, which form part of statutory guidance for secondary schools in England about how to deliver impactful and effective careers guidance, can be adapted for a primary school setting.

The pilot was launched in recognition of the fact children can start to make career limiting decisions as early as five years old. We hope to change that by sowing the seeds of ambition from an early age.

One highlight from my day in the North East was a visit to Bothal Primary School, which focuses on STEM learning. The school is an inspiring example of new, innovative thinking to engage pupils and industry. Incredibly, the school has a whole wing devoted to STEM, with great facilities, such as 3D printers.

Local and global businesses are providing support, with a BMW room next to the AkzoNobel inspiration suite. This is providing a great environment for pupils to understand the skills needed for different careers and to realise there is more to getting a good job than academic qualifications.

My next stop was Lingey House Primary School, which is developing new ways to support ‘career related learning’ through workbooks. These are used to demonstrate the huge range of career options available in different subject areas. For example, working in creative arts and design can lead to becoming a fashion designer, a photographer, a fine artist, a make-up artist, an animator, a dancer, an illustrator and many more. All these roles are described in detail, setting out what the job entails, the qualifications needed and salary expectations.

To bring career options to life, I saw that lots of schools in the pilot are inviting people working in different roles to come in and talk about their job. It’s a great way to engage and inspire the next generation.

A final example of how a school is responding to the challenge of building interest in future work is Percy Main Primary School in North Shields. They are working with a local museum to give the children an opportunity to role play a wide variety of the jobs available within the sector from archaeologist to receptionist. Their parents were then invited in to see their children in action, which is so important in terms of building involvement and engagement in this project.

I can’t wait until my next trip in April to find out what happens next in the schools I’ve been lucky enough to visit. But in the meantime, please look out for more wonderful case studies from this project. They’ll be hosted on the North East Ambition website and available on the EY Foundation social media channels.

The North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is supported by funding from the European Social Fund, EY Foundation and the Local Growth Fund.

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In conversation with Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, about National Apprenticeship Week

03-07 February 2020 sees the arrival of National Apprenticeship Week, putting this important route to employment in the spotlight. Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, highlights the benefits that apprentices can bring to businesses and new support that’s on offer from 2020.

If you’re a business planning for 2020 and beyond, it’s likely that staffing and skills will be on your list of priorities.

Apprenticeships can be a great way of bringing fresh talent and skills to your business, by employing an apprentice or upskilling staff via an apprenticeship scheme, with qualifications going all the way up to degree-level.

From 2020, larger employers who pay the Apprenticeship Levy can transfer up to 25 percent of their funds to smaller businesses to support them to take on an apprentice, which is great news for SMEs.

However, smaller businesses often tell us that they struggle with ‘where to start’ when it comes to hiring an apprentice; from how to fund an apprenticeship to recruiting the right person for the job.

To support businesses in that situation, we’ve just updated our Apprenticeship Toolkit on the North East Growth Hub to offer simple and clear advice on where to start and where to get support.

The Toolkit brings together useful information to help businesses find, recruit, train and develop an apprentice. It also includes case studies from local businesses that have benefited from employing apprentices.

On a national level, a significant development for 2020 is that all employers in England will soon have access to all the benefits of the National Apprenticeship Service – including greater choice of quality training providers, more control over how they pay for training, and how they access and recruit apprentices.

The transition of non-levy paying businesses onto the full apprenticeship service will take place from early 2020 and extra funding will be available to support up to 5,000 new apprenticeship starts through the service every month until March 2020.

If you’re not able to offer an apprenticeship, you might want to consider offering a traineeship instead, which consist of 20 percent on-the-job and 80 percent off-the-job training.

Traineeships help 16 to 24-year-olds get ready for a job or apprenticeship if they don’t have the appropriate skills or experience. It involves a minimum of 100 hours of work experience over a maximum of six months. Employers need to deliver a meaningful work experience to the trainee, but it’s a much smaller time commitment than an apprenticeship. It’s a great way to give someone their first step onto the career ladder, and your business gets to benefit from an injection of fresh ideas and talent too.

During 2018/19, we saw over 15,500 apprenticeships start in our region. By offering an apprenticeship or traineeship, businesses can help to improve skills across the North East, boosting the economy and creating more and better jobs. It would be fantastic to see these numbers really grow from 2020 onwards.

To find out more about the benefits of apprenticeships and the value they can add to your business, visit the Apprenticeship Toolkit on the North East Growth Hub.

You can also find more information about apprenticeships and traineeships by visiting www.gov.uk or www.apprenticeships.gov.uk.


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Durham University finds the formula for young mathematicians in North East England

Durham University, in partnership with Durham Sixth Form Centre, will open a new flagship Mathematics School in 2022 to help raise attainment in mathematics and other STEM subject across the North East.

The only one of its kind in the region, the school will benefit talented students in County Durham, Tyne & Wear, Northumberland, Cleveland, the North Yorkshire Coast, and Cumbria.

The new state-funded school is a response to the national skills-gap and the call to improve attainment, increase participation and raise aspiration in Mathematics and STEM subjects from A-Level onwards.

The North East’s vibrant tech sector is forecast to grow to £2.5bn by 2020 and will continue to offer bright futures for many young people in the region who have the right knowledge and skills.

However, opportunities to study Mathematics at a higher level are currently unevenly distributed across the region. It is hoped the new Durham Mathematics School will improve opportunities for all, ensuring every young person has the option to pursue a career in STEM.

Durham Mathematics School will catalyse improvements across the region, increasing applications from students to study Mathematics and other STEM subjects at university, pursue STEM related careers or just to nurture a passion and interest in the subject.

As well as providing specialist teaching for a select number of students, the school will also run outreach programmes across the region and professional development opportunities for maths teachers. It will help raise standards across the North East, attracting the brightest teachers to the region, and opening opportunities for many young people.

The school will offer A-Level courses in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Computer Science and/or Physics, with students having the option to study a fourth subject at the Durham Sixth Form Centre.

The School will be close to Durham University and Durham Sixth Form Centre, which will offer a wealth of extra-curricular activities and other opportunities.

The School will also offer boarding for students who live too far away to commute every day.

The initial business case has been approved by the Department of Education.

Find out more by visiting the official Durham Mathematics School website.

The North East’s higher education and further education institutions play a vital role in helping to build a strong regional economy, from their contributions to innovation, social mobility and workplace productivity, to the role they play in bringing skills and investment to the region. Read more about the role of our universities, colleges and educational establishments in the North East Strategic Economic Plan.

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Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, provides an update on the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot

In 2015, the North East LEP began work on a pilot programme that would go on to directly influence statutory guidance for every school in England on how to deliver effective and impactful careers guidance.

Fast forward to 2019 and we’re now running a second pilot in the North East LEP region, this time focusing on primary schools.

The North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot aims to sow the seeds of ambition from an early age in recognition of the fact children can start to make career limiting decisions as early as five years old.

In partnership with the EY Foundation, a charity that supports young people from low income backgrounds get into work, we’re working with 70 primary schools from across the North East. The purpose of the project is to test how the eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks can be adapted for a primary school setting.

Since launching the pilot, each of the schools has used our North East Ambition online audit tool to assess their current careers education provision and identify which, if any, of the Benchmarks they are delivering.

Using this information, they have then gone on to develop an individual action plan that outlines how they will implement and achieve the Benchmarks.

The North East LEP has supported them through this process by providing expert help and advice in the form of two primary facilitators that work directly with the schools. We’ve also arranged two area meetings giving pilot schools the chance to come together, share ideas, discuss best practice and access resources, toolkits and learning to help them deliver their action plans.

It’s been fascinating to see the progress that the schools have made at this early stage of the pilot and we are delighted with the level of commitment from the staff at each of the schools, including from Head Teachers and Governors.

We’re seeing schools integrate careers education into its existing work, which is a great way to deliver the Benchmarks. Our facilitators have also supported teachers to introduce careers into lesson plans and help students understand the range of jobs available to them. For example, pupils at Newsham Primary School in Blyth worked with ambassadors from Blyth STEM Hub and the Greenpower Foundation to help build an electric car. Students at Percy Main Primary School in North Shields learnt how to be museum curators as part of a visit to Segedunum Roman Fort, and pupils at Kings Priory School in Tynemouth enjoyed a careers event with over 25 activities that explored different job roles – from chocolatiers to engineers.

It’s also been great to see our primary and secondary schools beginning to work together to support achievement of the Benchmarks and this whole school, and collaborative, approach is a really positive sign for the pilot’s success.

In all, we’ve had a fantastic start to the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot and I’d like to thank all 70 primary schools for their commitment, hard work and enthusiasm.

It will be exciting to see what progress we’ve made in another six months.

If you’d like to learn more about our North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot, please visit www.northeastambition.co.uk. You can also email us with any questions via [email protected].

By Michelle Rainbow
Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

The North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is supported by funding from the European Social Fund, EY Foundation and the Local Growth Fund.

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East Durham College launches Careers Leadership Committee

East Durham College operates across three campuses and serves a wide and varied group of students studying both academic and vocational courses at various different levels, including GCSE, BTEC, NVQ, A Level and Higher Education.

Because of this, East Durham College was keen to explore a new approach to careers education, one that met the needs of each and every student.

In recognition of its unique offer, the College chose to establish a Careers Leadership Committee that could work effectively across all three of the college’s sites and better represent its students by offering a diverse range of views and experience.

To support its work establishing a Careers Leadership Committee, East Durham College used its learning as part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Gatsby Good Career Benchmarks pilot to map out how each department engaged with careers. The exercise showed some excellent careers education provision within its curriculum areas and some in need of improvement.

Based on this research, and following recommendations from The Careers & Enterprises Company, East Durham College established a Careers Leadership Committee that comprises a Board member, two members of the College Leadership Group, the Vice Principal Curriculum and Performance and:

  • Director of Student Experience, Engagement and Wellbeing
  • Director of Inclusive Learning
  • Programme Leader for Progression Coaches
  • Curriculum Manager 14-16
  • Curriculum Directors from across all campuses
  • Careers Co-ordinator
  • NECOP Co-ordinator (FutureMe)
  • Quality Co-ordinator

Since forming, the Careers Leadership Committee has helped ensure careers education is at the heart of East Durham College. It is now a regular agenda item at all Curriculum meetings where it is planned, reviewed and assessed as part of each Curriculum Area’s SAR & QIP.

The Student Service department has increased its careers advice provision and more cross-college events are taking place to support students and parents.

The Careers Leadership Committee has also begun to record and capture careers activity across the college’s three campuses to identify which teams are performing well, and which teams may need some additional support.

The only costs associated with the new Careers Leadership Committee is staff time, meaning it is a sustainable and long-term way of delivering effective and impactful careers guidance that will benefit all students at the College.

East Durham College is one of 11 colleges and sixth form centres involved in the only national College Careers Hub in the country. Careers Hubs are a central part of the Government’s Careers Strategy, which aims to improve careers education and help prepare young people for the world of work.

The College Careers Hub pilot is facilitated by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

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North East LEP expands innovative Ford Next Generation Learning pilot programme

Three new education institutions have joined the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s pioneering Ford Next Generation Learning pilot, which supports careers education in schools and colleges by bringing the workplace and classroom closer together.

Castleview Enterprise Academy in Sunderland, James Calvert Spence College in Amble and Sunderland College, Northumberland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form – which constitute Education Partnership North East – join Excelsior Academy in Newcastle and Churchill Community College and Norham High School, North Tyneside, on the innovative pilot programme that sees students learn through engagement with employers.

Originally piloted in Nashville, USA, the Ford Next Generation Learning model has resulted in an almost 23% rise in graduation rates and significant improvements in attainment, discipline and attendance in the district. It’s since been adopted by more than 30 US school districts.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The North East region is leading the way when it comes to new approaches to careers education.

“From our successful pilot of the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks to our Education Challenge programme, we have identified new ways of helping young people connect with employers so they have a better understanding of the world of work.

“The Ford Next Generation Learning pilot has been a huge success and I’m delighted to welcome another three institutions onto the programme. Castleview Enterprise Academy, James Calvert Spence College and Education Partnership North East joined us on a recent visit to Nashville to see the model in action and hear from schools and students about the positive impact it’s having.

“Here in the North East we’re seeing an improvement in students’ motivation, oracy, teamwork skills and overall confidence. Students themselves have told us that they now have a much better understanding of why they are studying different topics, through linking the curriculum to real life situations.”

As part of the North East LEP’s Ford Next Generation Learning pilot, which is delivered in partnership with education charity the Edge Foundation, students have worked with employers including Go North East and Great North Run on real life projects that allows them to interact with people who work in businesses in their local area. They’ve also had the opportunity to meet surgeons, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Industry Alignment Support Officers, recruited by the North East LEP, work directly in schools and colleges to help them better engage with local businesses and apply real life work situations to the school curriculum. The North East LEP has appointed three new Industry Alignment Support Officers – Naznin Ahmed, Rachael Church and David Gibson – to work with the new intake of institutions.

Judith Quinn, Deputy Principal, Education Partnership North East, said: “The knowledge and experience gained from our visit and linking in with Ford Next Generation Learning, Academies of Nashville and the partners of the project will enable us to further implement career focussed relevant teaching and learning.

“We look forward to generating further excellence with our employer engagement links to the benefit of our Health and Life Sciences students career progression.

“The positive impact of this innovative project will drive a holistic approach for the development of students’ employability skills including maths and English skills.”

Emma McDermott, Assistant Vice Principal at Castle View Enterprise Academy, said: “The visit was truly inspirational. The opportunity to visit schools in Nashville provided us with a great insight into how employer engagement and vocational education can be integrated into a students’ curriculum.

“Whilst reflecting some of the good practice we have already established at Castle View Enterprise Academy, the visit also highlighted areas for development. For example, the importance of a partnership approach with the wider community right from the outset, from planning stage rather than just working together on the delivery aspect of projects.

“We are excited to see how this project develops the learner experience and our curriculum at Castle View Enterprise Academy.”

James Moore, Head of Sixth Form and Careers at James Calvert Spence College, said: “The international study visit to Nashville with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership in partnership with Ford Next Generation Learning was an amazing opportunity to transform our approaches to careers and curriculum learning.”

Scott Palmer, Ford Next Generation Learning Community Coach, said: “We are really excited to see the partnership with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership expand with a cohort of three new Education Institutions in the North East. We value and appreciate the first cohort of institutions pioneering the way on how the guiding principles of our framework translate to the UK Education System. We learn so much from all of the institutions we work with which will help us to develop our approach and impact as we grow the network internationally.”

Starr Herrman, Ford Next Generation Learning Implementation Coach, said: “As a former Director of the Academies of Nashville, and now as a Ford NGL Coach in the North East, I am thrilled and encouraged to see progress from our Phase 1 pilot to Phase 2 with our new cohort of schools and colleges. There is new energy and intentionality that will allow the partnership of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, the Edge Foundation and Ford Next Generation Learning to transform education for students, teachers and partners with a community connected approach.”

The Ford Next Generation Learning pilot is part of the North East LEP’s Education Challenge programme, which aims to reduce the gap between the North East’s best and lowest performing schools and to integrate an understanding of the world of work and career opportunities into the curriculum.

Find out more at northeastambition.co.uk/education-challenge.

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North East LEP signs School Governor Champion Charter

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) has become the first LEP in the country to sign the School Governor Champion Charter, which aims to champion the role of school governor and support staff members to become governors in local schools.

Developed by national school governor recruitment service, Inspiring Governance, the School Governor Champion Charter is a five-step charter employers can sign to pledge their support to champion school governance opportunities in their area and encourage staff to take up the role.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Businesses have an increasingly important role to play in our education institutions. As an active partner, they can support students to learn more about the world and work and help them progress into fulfilling careers.

“Being a school governor is a rewarding experience and people from all sectors of industry have valuable skills and experience to share and gain. Schools and colleges in the North East are actively seeking people from the business community to help shape their strategic direction and ensure they operate in a way that meets performance standards.

“The education sector has become increasingly business-led in its approach, which is why having a varied and diverse school governing body that includes people from different industries and sectors is of huge benefit.”

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership is a public, private and education sector partnership that works with industry, education and partners to deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan. One of its core aims is to improve skills in the region, helping to boost the economy and create more and better jobs.

Its North East Ambition initiative supports all schools and colleges in the North East LEP area to achieve the government’s Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, ensuring every young person has access to excellent careers guidance that enables them to identify routes to a successful working life, make more informed decisions about their future and be better prepared for the workplace.

The North East LEP is also working with EY Foundation and 70 primary schools from across the North East LEP as part of the North East Ambition: Careers Benchmarks Primary Pilot, which is testing how Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks can be adapted for primary schools.

Michelle continued: “The North East LEP works collaboratively with business and education through our Skills programme to improve opportunities and outcomes for children and young people across the LEP region. Over the past four years we have seen the progress that can be made through effective school governance.

“By signing the School Governor Champion Charter, we are recognising the value and importance of school governance and how, as an organisation, we can help promote opportunities in our area and support staff and colleagues to become governors themselves.

“If anyone would like to know more about becoming a school governor, or would like their organisation to sign the charter, do please get in touch by emailing [email protected].”

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In conversation with Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, about the North East Regional Careers Leaders Network Meeting

Friday 29 November is an exciting day for us as we welcome 140 colleagues from schools and colleges across the LEP area to the first Regional Careers Leaders Network Meeting of the academic year.

Taking its turn this time in Newcastle, at St James’ Park, the event is an opportunity for us to discuss the latest developments in careers education and hear from guest speakers working in the education and careers sector. This is the largest meeting we’ve held to date, which really demonstrates the region-wide commitment to delivering quality careers education in our schools, colleges and universities.

The theme for this event is ‘Careers: The bigger picture’, and our invited keynote speaker is Steve Hailstone, Senior HMI further education and skills in the North East, who will take us through the new Education Inspection Framework and what it means for Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) in our schools and colleges.

We’ll also hear from guest speakers representing National Careers Week, NatWest and HMRC about the ways they can support careers provision in the LEP area and offer opportunities to students.

I’m personally really looking forward to the first ever screening of a new film we’ve developed in partnership with students from Norham High School in North Shields. For the past few months, students have been looking at the career opportunities available in the four sectors identified in the LEP’s North East Strategic Economic Plan as contributing to the growth of our economy – digital, advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, and energy. The film will be available to view on the North East Ambition website after the event.

We’ll also be providing an update on the North East LEP’s North East Ambition programme, including our recently launched North East Ambition: Careers Benchmarks Primary Pilot, which aims to build ambition from an early age. We’ll also be discussing how the education sector can engage with the LEP’s new Digital for Growth strategy.

There will be some interactive and collaborative activities too so colleagues have the chance to network and share some of the brilliant work they do.

Our North East Regional Careers Leaders Network Meetings are a fantastic way for careers leaders and people supporting careers education in schools, colleges and universities to come together, improve their knowledge, and learn from each other. There is a huge amount of inspiring and innovative work taking place in our region and this event is also a great opportunity to share and celebrate the achievements of colleagues helping to improve opportunities for young people in the North East.

If you’d like to join us at the next meeting, or would like to know more about careers education and North East Ambition, please visit www.northeastambition.co.uk and sign up to our opportunities bulletin, or email us via [email protected].

 The North East Regional Careers Leaders Network is supported by the European Social Fund through the North East Ambition programme. The North East Ambition programme receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.
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Harnessing digital potential in the North East

At the start of October, a new digital strategy for the North East was launched. Digital for Growth brings together partners from across the region to maximise opportunities for growth and investment. North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Skills Director, Michelle Rainbow, talks about digital skills and how our workforce will form a vital component of this new digital strategy.

The North East is a region with a vibrant digital ecosystem that is packed with the potential to deliver economic growth and more, new jobs as it continues to flourish.

That’s not just jobs which might be typically defined as digital – for example, gaming design or software development – but roles across all areas of industry, as more and more organisations embrace digitalisation and the increased productivity it brings

To make sure we’re in the best possible position to reap the benefits of digitalisation for our region, we need to focus on the digital skills needs that we know exist in the North East. We must make sure that people in our area – both our existing workforce and the workforce of the future – have the digital skills that employers are looking for, and the skills that will allow everyone to fully take part in an increasingly digitalised society.

We want to completely dispel any myths and stereotypes that exist when people think about digital skills, or careers in the digital sector, and we want to empower people of all ages and backgrounds to upskill and take advantage of new technologies and digital job opportunities.

Part of our work around this will be to link employers closely with schools, colleges and education providers to ensure that young people, from primary-school age onwards, understand the range of possibilities open to them in our region, whether that’s a career in a digitally focussed organisation or a role in any sector which will require sound digital skills.

The Digital for Growth strategy focuses on the many digital hubs and networks we have in the region, plus our colleges, universities and training providers. Strong relationships between education and industry are already having a positive impact and we want to see more of this happening throughout the region, across businesses of all sizes and types.

We also believe it’s especially important that employers continue to look to the future, champion digital skills development and invest in training for their workforce. Lifelong learning, training opportunities, mid-career retraining and non-linear career paths are other examples of areas where employers can take positive action to upskill existing workers and help to secure a pipeline of appropriately-skilled people for years to come.

The North East LEP aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs in the North East by 2024, and many of these jobs will be within the digital sector, or they will require strong digital skills.

Working together to address our digital skills needs is vital if we are to make sure that people in our region can enjoy a better quality of life, if our businesses are to continue to grow and take on new staff, and if our young people are to build fulfilling and successful careers.

Read more about the North East’s Digital for Growth strategy here. If you’d like to join the North East LEP’s working group for digital skills, please get in touch at [email protected].