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Life Ready Case Studies

Arden’s Business Engagement Success with Students

Published on Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Students attending the borough’s Arden Academy in Knowle, will again this year be benefitting from previous year’s successful strategies which will enable them to be exposed to the world of work, business and industry as well as academia and further education.

The school will be welcoming individuals from various professions and industries to address, inspire and motivate the students by giving them a sense of what the future might hold, and how they may build a successful career for themselves.Three key groups of students are the primary focus of the overall strategy within the school this year. Each group will have a different degree of focus on their future, and differing ranges of possibilities, as well as obviously being different ages and therefore having a different view of the world. As a result, each group need their own tailored strategy and events that reflect where they are at, and how they view the world outside and beyond school and/or sixth form.

Years 8 & 9 will receive a broad generalised exposure to various occupations as they lead in to taking their options for GCSE. This will include Careers projects within PSHE lessons, alongside employer engagement activities such as participation in the ‘Your Green Future’ and ‘iRail’ events. For Year 11 who are considering their further education options, a number of supporting opportunities will be provided for students. These will include time to prepare CVs, letters of application and participate in mock interviews. The support for Sixth Form students is centred around an exciting ‘Futures’ week which provides students with access to a wide range of speakers and workshops aimed at providing information and guidance about universities, finance, Apprenticeships and gap years amongst other things.


When questioned one of the students said, “I attended the Futures event earlier this year, and it was great to hear professionals in their field talk about what it’s really like to do the job, and how they got to be where they are today. Listening to an ex-pupil of the school was great because they have been where you are. It makes you realise what you can do rather than just hearing it from our teachers.” Another student commented, “Throughout the week we enjoyed many seminars from former Arden students and University workers. As well as learning about the courses and campuses, we heard first-hand what university life is like. As someone who is fairly certain I’ll go to university, I found all this very helpful but my friends who were considering apprenticeships attended useful talks too about possible pathways and futures week has shown me that university is not the only option. Overall it was a thought provoking and interesting week”.


As well as these specialist events and experiences, all year groups at Arden spend time considering and building their ‘Skills for Success’ through the school’s Learning for Life programme which support the core values of the school. In the process of becoming re-accredited for their ‘Career Mark’ award in 2016, Arden was commended for the way their careers programme filters throughout the school.

All year groups within the school benefit from exposure to people who’ve already ‘been there and got the t-shirt’, hearing about the route taken to obtain the success they have achieved, and how they have got to where they have today. This may be Year 7 meeting a professional artist at a workshop during their visit to Walsall Art gallery, Year 9 hearing from the RAF during one of their STEM workshops, or Year 10 participating in their week of work experience. Whatever the format, that exposure proves invaluable and is a key aspect of the careers advice and guidance on offer at Arden.

Arden’s strategy also includes building key partnerships. This includes a long standing relationship with the with the local Rotary club who organise a ‘Beyond-16’ event annually in November which provides students with the opportunity to meet a range of local and national businesses and training providers. Other exciting new partnerships for this year include a lecture series with business leaders, parents and alumni sharing their experiences in assemblies, and increased engagement with local businesses for work experience placements. Local resident, Bradley Parkes, from Specsavers Solihull and Shirley, was appointed last year as the schools Enterprise Advisor, working with the Arden’s Assistant Principal Eleanor Collett to help coordinate the strategy across the school. On the strategy, Bradley said; “These events, with the support of the local and wider business community, deliver an environment that engages, inspires and creates a labour market that is fit to serve the nations requirements in the short and long term.” “Working with an Enterprise Advisor has really helped us develop a strategy that provides work ready students as well as further education ready students,” said Eleanor. “It also enables us to engage more closely with the business community which is so important for our students.”



Life Ready is being rolled out to schools and colleges across Solihull, to raise the standards of careers guidance and develop independent, dynamic, young adults. The programme is the local delivery for the Careers & Enterprise Company Enterprise Adviser Network; matching schools with Enterprise Advisers (business volunteers).

If you would like to learn more about Life Ready and how you and/or your business or school/college can be involved, contact Lucy Lewis on 0121 704 8737 or email lifeready@solihull.gov.uk.


Top: Sixth form students participating in ‘Futures’ week.
Above: Examples of some of the employer engagement activities on offer.
Year 9 students involved in an RAF STEM roadshow
Year 10 Catering students working with Professional Chefs

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