14 March 2018

Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College, Waterlooville, tells its story

Angela McQuiston, Head of Careers:

“Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College is an Academy school in Waterlooville, near Portsmouth. We serve a wide catchment area with students travelling from Portsmouth, Fareham and even Hayling Island. With this comes a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

We have been building our alumni network for the past three years and inviting former students back for occasions like ‘professional days’. Some alumni said freeing up a whole day was difficult for them, which is why we started hosting short talks during our 20 minute tutor/assembly time instead. We cast the net quite wide – simply suggesting a day of the week and letting former students choose the day that works best for them.

Future First helps us with sending out initial invites through the portal then I log in and confirm arrangements with alumni. Sometimes they are concerned about what they’re going to say to the students. I suggest keeping it casual and talking through their career pathway, what a day in their job looks like and then answering students’ questions. Former students are often keen to come back and speak to students again which is great!

Students told us they would like to find out more about two of our former students’ jobs as engineers so they are returning next term to lead a more intensive session with physics and maths students.

Another former student was even able to offer the students work experience placements and has offered to host a trip to see them in London, showing the students around the London Stock Exchange!

A really inspiring encounter happened recently when a former student speaker came to talk about the importance of work experience, having struggled to move forwards in her career without it. A student had an extensive chat with her afterwards and has subsequently managed to secure a work experience placement as a result. This was particularly significant for this student as she’s planning to head straight into training or employment rather than going down the university route. Meeting a former student who can inform her about how to get ahead in the world of work has been life changing.

We have had a really positive response from the students who have attended the talks. Seeing their enthusiasm for particular careers develop, as well as gaining experience and further insight into different career pathways is really great. The talks have certainly shown the students the variety of careers that are out there and got them thinking about their own pathways.”