Virtual career opportunities for Harlow students

Burnt Mill Academy / Wed 4th Nov 2020 at 10:10am

SOCIAL distancing and enforced bubbles are not standing in the way of young adults planning their futures.

While the Covid-19 crisis means students must stay within their school building for lessons, BMAT STEM Academy, in Harlow, is ensuring the rules do not create a barrier to opportunities.

The unique school – for students in Year 10 and above with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects – has put together a range of virtual experiences for its students.

The school is working closely with its industry sponsors – including Princess Alexandra Hospital, Gratnells, GlaxoSmithKline, Raytheon and Pearson Education – who regularly provide students with insider knowledge, work experience and career prospects.

Dave Ramsey, assistant headteacher, said: “We are working with all of our sponsors and other companies to ensure we are still holding talks and providing opportunities for our students to take part in when visitors can’t physically come into school. We are constantly looking for opportunities for students to interact with our industry contacts, despite lockdown.”

Every Friday, students now take part in a project with the school’s contacts, including engineering with Raytheon and programming with Loxone, to ensure they are picking up the vital skills they need for their GCSE and A-level courses.

Other virtual experiences introduced this school year include –
Year 10 students watched a Live broadcast from the Army, learning about the recruitment process, age restrictions, career paths of people from different backgrounds, the Army apprenticeship scheme and the 300 job roles within the organisation. Students also learnt about the role the Army has played during the Covid-19 outbreak, including setting up the Nightingale Hospitals and helping to supply personal protection equipment to those who needed it
Year 10, 11 and 12 taking part in the ASK apprenticeship programme, which gives free support to develop and transform how students think about apprenticeships. The school can choose five free sessions from a list, including virtual talks on higher and degree level apprenticeships; writing a winning application; and recognising strengths.
joining free online sessions with the Department for Work and Pensions, including mentoring, discussing college and work aspirations, soft skills, CV and application workshops and world of work day.
working with Make Happen, based at University of Essex, to raise aspirations and increase interest in attending university. Having secured funding for the year, the school will tap into various opportunities, such as STEM Lego Day and an engineering day.
Mikaela Pinnock, careers advisor, said: “We are all having to work in a new way. While we cannot have visitors into school, we are working in a smarter way to give our students the same exposure to careers and experiences as we normally would, albeit virtually. They should not be disadvantaged by Covid-19, so we are finding different ways to bring those opportunities to them.
“From a student’s point of view, they can ask their teachers about careers and we can tell them. However, it is far more powerful to enable them to speak to those living the roles they are interested in and with the relevant personal experience. I can tell them about the process of applying to join the Army, for example, but I do not have first-hand knowledge knowledge, nor the living experience, to share with them.
“Our focus at BMAT STEM is to prepare young people for work. We have been contacting our partners since lockdown asking what they can offer to our students virtually.
“It is about giving students any opportunities we can that enable them to make informed decisions about their futures.”
The school has recently started working with The University of Cambridge-Emanuel College who will be providing tailored virtual sessions to Year 12 students.

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