Case Study: Swindon Academy, with the Careers Lady

2021 7 Swindon Academy Report Cover

As Swindon Academy prepares its Year 11 for further education, Launch Your Career helped The Careers Lady, Jessica Cook, deliver a special VR career workshop at the school. After a fun session, 46 pupils went home feeling assured and focused about the future.

A Transition Day to Remember

For Year 11 pupils at Swindon Academy, the future is ripe for the picking. To celebrate the end of their final term, after five fruitful years, educators arranged a transition day to say goodbye. It was a chance for students going to college, sixth form, or starting an apprenticeship to gain insights about careers and further education. The whole day was set up to help learners feel comfortable about taking their next steps.

The opportunity arose out of the pandemic. Due to restrictions on visiting other schools, the academy saved on its recruitment budget. Putting the budget to good use, it planned a day of goodies, including A-Level tasters, outdoor rounders, and ice cream. The day started with a trip to a college to put learners’ mind at ease ahead of their first day in September. Upon their return, pupils were treated to our our VR experience.

Careers coordinator Jessica Cook created a safe space for a fun afternoon with Launch Your Career. Our team provided presentations, activities, cardboard headsets, access to our personality quiz, and VR apps so that pupils could unleash their personality and explore a breadth of careers in a whole new dimension. Our programme ran a tight ship to keep learners in the zone and led nicely into the school’s alumni talks.

An Afternoon Designed for 46 Learners

The academy’s aim was to empower 46 Year 11 learners who’d made their post-16 choices. Half of its learners were going to college, the other half sixth form, and two were starting an apprenticeship with the local college that fall. To create wider divide, all pupils had applied to study different subject areas. Learners were split into two groups: college and sixth form. The two apprentices fit ideally into the college group.

Jessica and the head of sixth form led each group, respectively. As our team wasn’t onsite, we planned for any big challenges the academy and its career coordinators may face: timekeeping, engagement, and accessibility. We wanted to ensure the Launch Your Career experience went as seamlessly as possible to maximise success of the event, learner satisfaction, as well as showcase the impact of our platform.

First, our programme needed to fit an allocated timeslot and meet the needs of every student, so they had a chance to enjoy the whole experience. Second, it needed to be engaging; the learners, after all, had an action-packed morning, so anything too intense would lose them. However, it still needed to be the right level of informative. Thirdly, it needed to be user-friendly in all instances, from personalty quiz to the VR journey.

Engaging Uses of Technology To Inspire

Taking our VR headsets in hand, each pupil had a chance to explore themselves and careers. Once the VR booted, it beamed them to world that evolved with every choice. The journey started with a quiz, devised by our personality expert David Hodgson. In just 20 questions, pupils learned more about their inherent qualities. e.g., are they introverted or extroverted. These qualities were linked to ideal careers and one of 16 personality animals.

To make the experience more engaging, learners met our mascot VICTAR - a clever robot - who advised them at each stage. Whether on the quiz or looking at labour market information. Once the quiz was over, learners unlocked their personality animal which shared the same characteristics as them. The animals are a fun way to break the ice and introduce fitting careers to learners at any stage in their career discovery.

Like good companions, the animals and VICTAR stayed with learners for the whole journey, helping where possible. The VR removed distraction by blocking out external visual noise. This approach kept learners focused and fostered autonomy by inspiring them to find careers they love on their terms. However, as a precaution, coordinators could jump into the VR in real-time to provide support via our VICTAR-view.  

Students were broken into two teams. While one team used the VR headsets, the other could partake in activities we provided. e.g., one worksheet helped pupils to consider the lifestyle they wanted for the future. Students had to think about the car they wanted to drive or where they wanted to live, among other factors. The worksheet then supplied a list of jobs that could afford the lifestyle they had chosen.

Key Findings: What Did Learners Think of the VR?

The VR experience with Swindon Academy was a welcome surprise. Jessica reported that while she had a diverse group of students all wanting different things, they were all able to engage and take something away from the session. Using virtual reality created a vibe and students were super excited to discuss their animal types, careers they’d chosen, and even what they’d learned about labour market insights.

Our VR and cardboard headsets proved highly accessible for learners. Jessica revealed that three students in the group didn’t speak English. But as our VR app is designed to accommodate learners globally on any device, learners could set their native language on their phone before slotting it into the headset.  A simple addition, but inclusive, and ensured every student was given equal opportunity to participate.

As our personality quiz has gone through rigorous testing, the careers and courses Launch Your Career recommend off the back of it are uncannily accurate. Jessica stated that a large number of students found that our quiz linked them to courses they were applied to study in September. Upon finding out they’d made the right choices, the students were incredibly relaxed, excited, and ready for the future.

For Jessica and Swindon Academy, Launch Your Career also confirmed three things:

  1. The VR experience was a hit for students: engaging, informative, accessible, and easy to use.
  2. The quiz could advise or confirm careers, courses, and apprenticeships with great accuracy.
  3. Our platform is an ideal support tool for schools and career leaders to enhance their guidance.

Testimonial

‘Thank you so much Launch Your Career for helping us to create an exciting day for our students. There was a real buzz in the room. As students were participating with the VR headsets, they were all sharing what animal they’d come out with! The VR session was midway through quite a long day for students (especially students who’d been on study leave!) and we were pleasantly surprised by their engagement.’ Jessica Cook, Careers Coordinator, Swindon Academy

 

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