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Benchmark Two case study - Learning from career and labour market information

Over 200 former pupils from Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham have shared their careers experiences via an online survey, to inspire current students.

Former pupils of all ages were asked to complete a short online survey, quizzing them about their career journeys as well as the advice they’d give current students. The survey included nine questions, from favourite subjects at school to current employment status, and the paths that led them there.

The aim was to collate a broad range of responses demonstrating the breadth of careers available and the routes into them. As well as gathering useful and inspirational insights for current students, the activity also enabled staff to get involved – with each department sending the survey to pupils who studied their subject.

Effective promotion of the questionnaire has been crucial to its success, and the school made use of free channels including the school website, Facebook, Twitter, an article in the local newspaper and an online alumni group.

The sky is the limit

Careers Leader Katy Innis explains: “We wanted to hear from as many QEHS alumni as possible. We wanted to reach those who had recently left us and were at the start of their careers as well as those who had accumulated many years’ worth of hindsight and experience.

“We hoped their experiences would show our students how diverse a career journey can be and that the sky is the limit when it comes to careers. There are so many different careers out there and so many paths to take. We’ve heard from alumni who knew all along what pathway they were going to take as well as from those who chopped and changed, trained and re-trained. We’ve also heard from some who did a complete U-turn and ended up in a career they’d never anticipated.”

Staff across the school will use the responses as part of their lessons or careers sessions, linking their subjects to potential career paths and using the alumni as case studies.

The responses will also be used to create framed posters to display around the school.

Katy added: “All of our students will be able to benefit from this. Teaching staff will also benefit from having a range of people employed in relevant careers to either provide case studies or present to students about their career. We have also had feedback from the former pupils themselves who have really enjoyed being able to pass on their experiences and be involved with the school again.”

Three top tips for success:

  • You need to get the survey out there, so use wide-reaching communication methods
  • You need to allocate time for staff to collate and proofread/edit the responses
  • Collaboration from teaching and support staff across the school can use their networks to contact as many ex-students as possible.  

Three biggest challenges:

  • Not receiving enough responses
  • The responses being unhelpful or not useable
  • Keeping staff interested! We want this to be an ongoing thing so we’ll need continued staff support to push and publicise it.

What next?

We plan to run the survey annually, adapting the questionnaire and wording after feedback, to make sure we have a large pool of responses to draw from and cover as many careers as possible.

We’d also like to get some of the alumni even more involved and are looking at setting up interviews or Q&A sessions which we can film and show during lessons/careers sessions.

For more information contact

Katy Innes at Queen Elizabeth High School  -