Q&A with Highbury Fields School’s careers leader

A young Londoner talks to an employer at an Access Aspiration event,
24th May 2023

Access Aspiration works with a network of over 50 schools each academic year supporting work experience opportunities, workplace visits, employer talks, mock interviews and other employability and careers education support. Students are supported to be more confident and motivated in their choices of education and career pathways and supported to gain experience that improves their long-term employment and earning outcomes.

Schools do a great job of preparing young people for the world of work and are tasked by Department for Education to deliver a programme of high-quality careers education for their students. Highbury Fields School are a brilliant example of how partnering with Access Aspiration can enhance schools’ careers education offers and how Access Aspiration can be a much-needed resource in helping schools create a calendar of careers education activity that they can use to support students and demonstrate their commitment to careers education.

Highbury Fields School signed up for our Access Aspiration programme in 2022. Since then, 115 of their students have taken part in activities, with students reporting increased motivation, confidence and understanding of their career options.

We caught up with their careers lead, Urszula, to learn about the difference the programme has made to her school’s students.

Q: We know that Highbury Fields School have been actively engaged with the programme over the last academic year. How have you found Access Aspiration has supported your students?  

A: “We have had the pleasure of having Access Aspiration support our school and students this academic year. We have had students from Year 10 through to 13 take part in in-school activities from Access Aspiration, namely the ZSL Careers talk for Year 12, the Mock Interviews for Years 12 and 13, and the Kings College Science Speaker for Years 10 to 12. The students who took part in these all gave very positive feedback, and reported increased understanding of various career pathways, and that they felt motivated and more ambitious about their futures.”

Q: What is it about the programme that you find most beneficial for your school? 

A: “Helping to deliver in-school careers activities from a wide range of professionals and career backgrounds is amazing for our students. Access Aspiration has been amazing at connecting us with very knowledgeable speakers and professionals, who were all very engaging, and who were able to speak with our students and broaden their knowledge of career pathways. This is extremely beneficial to our students, and in turn our school overall.”

Q: With changes to careers education policy and increased requirements for schools to deliver, how has this impacted the school and has Access Aspiration been able to support this? 

A: “Yes, Access Aspiration has been able to support this – as mentioned above, Access Aspiration has been amazing at connecting us with professionals from various backgrounds and career pathways to help give our students lots of insight into the huge variety of professions and careers in life.”

Q: How has coming out of Covid and now the cost-of-living crisis impacted your school and your delivery of careers education? 

A: “Coming out of Covid, and now with the cost-of-living crisis, our school and our delivery of careers education has definitely been impacted. There is an increasing pressure to deliver careers education through face-to-face interactions – through in-school speakers, workplace visits etc. rather than through virtual webinars. The school’s budget has been affected, and the budget of other institutions too, which has an impact on our ability to deliver careers education. …due to many companies still working from home/having a hybrid working arrangement, it has been more challenging to find work experience placements for our Year 12 cohort for this summer term.”

Throughout the academic year, Access Aspiration continues to support Highbury Fields with access to our network of employers, with volunteers going into the school to work with their students and with students coming out to businesses to experience the world of work first-hand.

If you know a school that could use our support or your school would like to take part in the programme, please get in touch with Bronwen Owen, our Schools Project Manager to discuss – you can email here at bowen@mayorsfundforlondon.org.uk.