Ballymena Academy gives full recognition to the importance of Careers Education, Information Advice and Guidance as part of the general personal development of the pupil.
An integrated programme of Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance aims to develop knowledge, skills and personal qualities which will enable pupils to manage their career development effectively, to make informed choices at transition points, to formulate and to implement personal career plans.
Independent surveys indicate a very high level of satisfaction with the Careers programme on the part of parents and pupils and the most recent Inspection Report confirmed its high quality.
Pupils in the middle and senior school follow a structured time-tabled programme of Careers Education taught by a team of Careers teachers.
Using a variety of strategies and resources pupils are given an opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding of themselves, the world in which they live, and the employment and career opportunities that are available so that they can effectively manage transition from school to adult life, further and higher education, employment and training.
Formal careers guidance interviews are an important component of the school’s careers programme.
All pupils at ‘transition points’ i.e. Years 10, 12 and 14, have the opportunity to benefit from careers interviews which are conducted in school by their careers teacher, and/or the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) Careers Adviser. They are impartial, carefully planned and include advice focused on the career needs of individual pupils.
Careers teachers and the Careers Adviser are available throughout the year for consultation. Pupils have ready access to careers information of good quality and breadth (including interactive computer programs and Internet resources) as an integral part of their Careers programme. It is held in a purpose-built careers suite comprising four interview rooms and a well-stocked careers library. All pupils have the opportunity to take advantage of the short term borrowing facility.
The careers programme is enhanced by purposeful links developed with staff from Further and Higher Education, the Department for Employment and Learning and employers.
Careers information is supplemented by a careers convention and by visiting speakers from further and higher education, the DEL and occupations which reflect a full range of the career interests of the pupils.
Pupils in Year 13 have the opportunity to spend a period of time work shadowing which informs their decision making in relation to their general vocational and specific occupational interests.
Throughout the Sixth Form pupils attend university and college open days.
In Year 10 parents can discuss options available for GCSE with a member of the Careers Department at a Parents’ Consultation Evening. In August, after the publication of GCSE results, Year 12 pupils and their parents are invited to discuss post-GCSE options with a careers teacher. Information evenings are held for the parents of pupils in Year 11 and Year 13, focusing on transition post-GCSE and post-16 respectively.
Other opportunities to meet with careers teachers and the DEL careers adviser arise during Parents’ Evenings and the Careers Convention.
Many subjects have the potential to make valuable contributions to each pupil’s general vocational development and emerging occupational interests. The cross-curricular components of careers which flow naturally and realistically from the content and methodology of each subject help pupils to appreciate the coherence of their total curriculum.
Personal Career Planning is very much a central part of the school’s Careers Education and Guidance Programme.
This is a continuing and evolving process – introduced in Year 10 – involving documented self-awareness, decision making, planning and research pertinent to the pupil’s individual needs. A summary of the personal career plan, giving main details of the pupil’s intended career path, may be incorporated in the Progress File.
Ballymena Academy has received a major national award in recognition of its provision for Careers Education, Advice, Information and Guidance. The National Quality in Careers Standard has been awarded to the school at the highest level (Gold). This accreditation was attained after a rigorous process of evaluation and assessment carried out by Prospects, a leading national and international provider of careers information, advice and guidance for young people and adults. Ballymena Academy is the first school in Northern Ireland to receive this award and one of very few schools nationally to attain the gold standard.