Can student career interests be used to positively shape school curriculum?
Bradfield Senior College Case Study
“It’s often hard for young people to identify what their career might look like and we know that career planning is a lifelong activity. We’ve been working with Career HQ Compass for 3 years to help students start that process of exploration. The Compass also provides us with data to see trends across our cohorts each year and tailor our industry projects to suit the needs of our students”
Meredith Melville-Jones, College Director Bradfield Senior College.
Bradfield Senior College is a high school in Sydney that specialises in the creative industries. It caters for students in years 11 and 12, providing a personalised approach in an adult learning environment. Bradfield offers both traditional academic HSC subjects and a wide range of TAFE certificate courses. As well as a strong academic focus, they provide immersive project-based learning experiences that give students the opportunity to be inspired to create and connect such as the Vivid Ideas Creative Careers Day which is hosted annually at the school.
Every year an average of 150 Year 11 students arrive at Bradfield Senior College. Learning about who these students are, what they are interested in and how they can create a school landscape and curriculum that is responsive to these individuals is a yearly challenge. In order to prepare students for the world of work, Bradfield Senior College executive felt like they needed to know more about their students career interests earlier on and in a simple and engaging way. The wanted to find a solution that would help to improve engagement with students, enhance the relevance of their project-based learning subjects and to promote career exploration and career pathways from day one.
After receiving an email from CareerHQ, College Director Meredith Melville-Jones reached out to explore how The CareerHQ Compass (an online career tool) and its group career interests data technology could be used to answer this challenge. Bradfield Senior College decided to integrate The CareerHQ Compass in 2015 as a yearly activity for students beginning Year 11.
This 40 minute tool provided:
- an online career exploration activity for students in their first term at Bradfield. It gave each student the power to select 6-10 career options that they are considering pursuing after school, while exploring their strengths, interests and their lifestyle considerations.
- The school and teachers gained access to group data that highlighted the collective career interests of the new year group, as well as a breakdown of the career interests of every student. This gave Meredith and other teachers at the school the ability to reference a students report in order to build rapport and engage with the new student group.
Since first use in 2015 CareerHQ has assisted Bradfield Senior College to:
Increase engagement with new students: Bradfield can now access personalised career information around the career aspirations of each student within the first term of them starting at the senior college. Each individuals Report that is shared with select staff provides a way to increase engagement in the classroom and to improve learning outcomes as subjects can be linked to broader career aspirations.
Develop longitudinal data on the career interests of each year group: After three years of using The CareerHQ Compass Bradfield now has the ability to compare the similarities and differences in the emerging career interests of students. This has been used to shape the resourcing and approach taken by the schools careers program to equip students for future employment.
Create a unique approach to each year group: Every year group is individual and understanding how the career interests of each group vary has allowed the school to craft personalised career experiences for each year group. For example, one graduating class had a much stronger preference towards socially-focused careers and knowing this from the beginning of Year 11 impacted how the school approached creating relevant careers experiences for that group.
Uncovering student career blind spots: As a creative high school a large majority of the students at Bradfield are interested in pursuing creative careers. In observing the lifestyle considerations highlighted in the CareerHQ group data an interesting collective blind spot appeared. 76% of artists in Australia are sole traders or small business owners, yet few students highlighted any interest in running their own business when selecting their lifestyle preferences (Throsby & Petetskaya, 2017). This insight presented a potential blind spot in the understanding students had around the realities of becoming an artist and sole-trader. This observation gave Bradfield Executive a high impact insight into how they could better prepare their students to make the leap from study to employment.
Shaping which courses are provided: Like the above insight the data provided by CareerHQ allowed Bradfield Senior College to examine whether there are opportunities to implement new courses that respond directly to the career interests of students.
To find out more about CareerHQ and how it could benefit your school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +61 413 588 874
Throsby, D & Petetskaya, K. (2017). Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia. Retrieved online: http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/research/making-art-work/