Anita’s Start story at Grace Academy

Anita Chagar – former teacher at Grace Academy in Coventry. English teacher for years 7-12 and tutor group teacher for Year 7.

 “As tutors, we are given responsibility to track student involvement with the Start programme and monitor their progress. Every teacher of a year group at Grace Academy has access to Start and we all received an induction and thorough training.

I teach English to students in Year 7 up to Year 13, and I am a group tutor to a Year 7 class. When I started with my tutor group, we spent an allocated time going over Start and how it works, and getting them set up with a profile. We would use about 30 minutes each week to ease them into it. With the older years, we gave them more time and more individual sessions, being at the critical point in their school lives where they need to start determining A Level choices, and really thinking seriously about their future careers.

There is always a debate in school about how early we get the kids involved in thinking about their future. From using Start we’ve seen students become much more excited about having an enriching and fulfilling education, so that they can then make independent choices based on their career aspirations. It’s great that Start caters from Year 7 all the way up to Year 13, as we can get involved with different elements of the programme that will suit the student at their stage of life in school.

Start is a fantastic idea, I really wish I’d had a platform like it when I was in college. We began the programme with the Year 7 class, and watched their curiosity and excitement grow as they used the platform and discovered career possibilities. Start provides a mapping service, so the kids can see all the different colleges and universities they could study at that are on their doorstep which was really helpful.

In my tutor group the kids are from a mix of backgrounds, some of whom have parents that went to University. Start enables children to be on even playing field in accessing knowledge about higher education and future careers with seeing what opportunities can be available to them.

Start has been a key part of careers guidance at Grace Academy for the last few years and has made students much more conscious of careers and making decisions about their futures. We have careers fairs at the end of every school year, and using Start throughout the year has equipped the children with knowledge to help them make much more informed questions at the careers fair, and paint a clearer picture of who they want to speak to.

I asked my tutor groups to make presentations of careers options that they’re interested in based on their experience of Start. Every morning I’d ask them to present their career options and how they were going to get there. Start enables them to have more knowledge on a subject research how they can reach their career goals.

One student in my tutor group, Mitchell Tipple, really stood out in particular as benefiting from Start. He produced an excellent presentation on the career he wanted by doing thorough research through Start about what it takes to be a doctor, the experience and qualifications you need and where you can study medicine. Mitchell is in Year 7 and I was really impressed by his research skills, which Start really helped with. Start is brilliant for offering information as it also locates relevant information and links through to other options during the user journey.

Mitchell’s a bright student but I think that using Start gave him bigger sense of direction. He hadn’t had the opportunity to really sit down and think about what he wanted to do, but Start offered him the chance to discover what he needs to do to achieve his goal.

I would have massively benefited from Start when I was a student. As a teacher now I would say Start is engaging, highly visual and a fantastic careers education tool – I would highly recommend it to any school thinking of using it.”