Find out how an assistant headteacher and the school’s education and careers advice worker changed their approach to personalising one-to-one careers guidance sessions.
Reviewing the wider context of careers education provision at Stockport School
We recently caught up with two trailblazing education leaders at Stockport School, Belinda Schofield, assistant headteacher, and Michael Henshall-Watson, the education & careers advice worker for the school.
Belinda, as assistant headteacher, what are some of the key objectives you are striving for this year?
Our primary objective in September was to launch GMACS and Xello to provide a consistent and progressive approach to the use of online resources for all our students. We wanted a tool that would enable us to track more accurately our students’ potential career choices and future pathways whilst at the same time empowering students to take responsibility and have ownership of their plans.
Initially, we needed to communicate a clear message to our Year 11 students that using Xello could provide clarity about their skills and interests and give them the motivation and confidence to make plans for their future. With the current circumstances, our Year 11 students needed prompt advice and clear direction and Xello helped us personalise this support.
Michael, as the education & careers advice worker, what were you hoping to achieve?
My role is to undertake the one-to-one interviews with the Year 11 students. Normally, this process starts in the summer term and is achieved through completing paper-based surveys which can be time-consuming. I was looking for a solution that would engage our students quickly and one that would allow us to make the most of the face-to-face time together – socially distanced, of course. Having had a late start to the interviews this year, we needed this process to have a meaningful impact so that students felt empowered to complete applications for suitable destinations.
Finding solutions to overcome challenges
Stockport School was experiencing challenges that are not uncommon at schools across the UK. Belinda and Michael asked themselves questions such as: how can we motivate our students to be excited about their futures given the impact of Covid-19? How can we provide a consistent careers education experience? And, how does education technology actually save us time in our day so that we can reallocate that saved time to the most important parts of our roles?
Michael, how has Xello allowed you to optimise and further personalise your one-to-one guidance programme?
Xello has definitely changed the nature of my one-to-one guidance sessions with students. The way that I approach these sessions now is to have the students log into Xello and together we talk about what they’ve completed in the program. I’ve found that students are really opening up and asking more questions–both about careers in general but also about how to use Xello to explore their options.
Xello helps me administratively as well. I can prioritise my interviews. I can see who has completed lessons and assessments, and then, during our meeting, encourage them to complete different sections. I especially like the Skills Lab assessment! It helps students understand their skill set matches and validates their understanding of a suggested career.
I have found that the students have much higher aspirations this year which, considering the year it’s been, is fantastic!
Belinda, how has Xello made a difference to your strategic plans for this school year?
Initially, we wanted to find different ways to launch Xello and integrate it into our Careers programme but our priority had to be supporting Year 11 students. We came into this evaluation process with Xello and GMACS looking for a solution just in case students were forced into isolation and a subsequent period of remote learning due to staff members and students contracting Covid-19. Whatever happened, we wanted to ensure we could deliver effective one-to-one careers interviews either virtually or face-to-face.
Firstly, we conducted a small experiment where we had some of the children of our team members set up with Xello and Michael held sessions over the phone. He was able to easily log into Xello’s educator tool, while the student explored their own account.
They were able to conduct the one-to-one interview as if they were in a face-to-face interview. It worked brilliantly and we now had our ‘Plan B’ if we needed it.
The experience showed us how beneficial it was to make the interview an interactive experience so we set up the Careers office with a laptop for student use so they could access their profile at the same time as Michael.
The feedback has been really positive from students and they have been much more equipped to complete their college applications this term. Amazingly, Michael has conducted over 180 face-to-face interviews this term and we are hoping that the cohort will all have been seen by Christmas.
Implementing Xello across Stockport School to support with personalised careers information and guidance
Stockport School are fortunate to be part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and so they have access to Xello via the GMACS service. This meant that Xello was a front-of-mind solution to consider when Belinda and Michael were assessing how to overcome their challenges of motivating their students, introducing consistency to their careers programme, and finding time-saving efficiencies in their one-to-one guidance sessions.
What are your plans for using Xello with the rest of your students?
‘We plan to monitor the effectiveness of our work introducing Xello to Year 10 students. The Year 10 Careers lessons are more structured, allowing us the time to guide the students through Xello. We want students to see this is a tool for them which they will keep coming back to so they can make informed decisions about their future plans,’ says Belinda.
Michael and Belinda were keen to point out that both their pastoral manager and director of progress will be using Xello to monitor the progress of their students and support students’ emotional and behavioural needs.
‘Our Year 11 tutors have access to Xello now. They have started by introducing the product during form time. The next step will be doing much the same for students in Year 8 & 9. We hope that before long, the whole school will be up and running with Xello,’ says Belinda.
What would you say to someone who is looking for an edtech solution and is actively evaluating Xello?
‘The way that Xello is designed to allow students the flexibility to make multiple plans for their future means that our students have endless opportunities to refine and assess their options and choices. This approach is very much in keeping with nurturing skills, rather than preparing students for one, single pathway,’ says Belinda.
‘For me, Michael and our fellow teachers, Xello is a clear means of empowering our students to take responsibility by providing them with a platform that gives them the feeling of control over their actions and the initiative to shape their own futures.’
‘One very clear takeaway that I would communicate gladly to a fellow careers leader exploring Xello is that it has massively increased engagement and raised student aspirations. If they’re interested in those outcomes, then I would recommend Xello,’ says Belinda.