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St Colman's High & Sixth Form College, Ballynahinch



Mrs D Kearney (Head of Department)

Mrs M Walsh (Careers Advisor)

What is Careers?

It’s about young people finding purpose, discovering what matters to them, their place in the world, the point of studying and getting up in the morning. Sometimes people think careers is just about information about options and planning for the future.  It’s so much more. It can give hope, meaning, purpose, self esteem and the ability to navigate the challenges of life. 

Our Departmental Aim

St. Colman’s are wholly focused on improving the CEIAG experience for all students, not just in Careers and Employability lessons, but across the curriculum. We strive to promote all aspects of CEIAG across the college with students and teachers alike. There is visible evidence of CEIAG in all prominent areas of the school including our classrooms.  Schemes of work from Year 8-14 and all resources are up to date and in line with statutory requirements and are reviewed regularly with team members and students

Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3 students have 2 lessons of LLW a week, they are taught employability on rotation. The course at Key Stage 3 presents a variety of opportunities to enable students in Employability, pupils have opportunities to explore a range of topics and develop Whole Curriculum Skills and Capabilities. Pupils learn about:

  • Work in the Local and Global Economy
  • Career Management
  • Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.

This subject strand aims to ensure that pupils develop the personal qualities, skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes that will give them a strong foundation for lifelong learning and work. These are important for all pupils, whether they go straight into the world of work or to further/higher education after they leave school.

These should help them to develop a range of Whole Curriculum Skills and Capabilities and encourage them to:

  • learn about different career options;
  • discover what their skills and personal capabilities are;
  • recognise the importance of choosing a fulfilling career and enjoying work; and
  • make informed career choices based on their knowledge about the world of work.

Key Stage 4

In Year 11 & 12 pupils engage in an Employability STEPS online resource. The aim is to encourage pupils to work collaboratively and independently and for each pupil to identify her own, specific key skills and qualities.

In Year 12, pupils focus on preparing for their next step. Students will explore Post-16 choices, looking at alternatives to A Level study, such as FE courses and finding out about institutions such as CAFRE. They get the opportunity to talk to Year 14 students about this process and each pupil also has a one to one interview with a Careers Adviser from Careers Service NI. Student’s create a personalised plan to help them make informed choices about their next step. Students have a one to one interview with E. Arnold who offers impartial advice.

Students engage in independent research and this is two-fold: they learn how to use a University Prospectus and use that knowledge to research University courses that may be of interest. Secondly, they use Careers software, such as ‘Career Ideas’ and ‘Career A-Z’, to research jobs. They learn about Labour Market Information too. When they have made their choices, the next Unit of Work focuses on the application process. Pupils will look at job advertisements, complete an application form, learn interview techniques and write their C.V.

Post 16 AS/A2 Level

In Year 13, pupils explore post-18 options and alternatives to University. They also engage in researching these options and in University research, with research forming a large section of their Careers time.

Work experience is a very important part of year 13 Careers. Competition for a place at university is increasing in Northern Ireland as applications have increased. Work experience provides many benefits, giving pupils the skills and experience that will allow them to stand out to potential employers and university admission selectors as well as helping pupils choose the right sector to work in.

Currently work experience are run via Speakers for Schools who offer outstanding virtual experiences.  Students make an account and can check opportunities weekly. 

Towards the end of the year, they learn about University application processes, such as CAO, direct application to institutions such as FE Colleges and UCAS.

In relation to the latter, they do a lot of work around how to structure and write a personal statement. It is expected that, at the end of Year 13, pupils understand how to write an effective personal statement. will complete registration for UCAS, ahead of their busy Upper Sixth year. A number of visiting speakers will attend during Year 13.

In Year 14, pupils have one Careers lesson a week; they have regular visiting speakers and talks. They begin the year by attending the QUB and UUJ Open Days and then they focus on UCAS applications; the Careers Department gives support and guidance regarding personal statements and choices and each pupil will have at least one interview with a member of the Careers Department. This is in order to discuss any concerns or issues the student may have and to help with the UCAS application of each student.

In term two, pupils will have a mock interview with someone from industry in preparation for University interviews and the world of work. 

A number of visiting speakers come to school and these include: UK and ROI Universities, St Mary’s, Young Enterprise, companies offering Apprenticeships and Student Finance. By the end of Year14, it is expected that pupils will have researched and planned for leaving school.