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Students need to become positive, resourceful, and motivated learners who will carry on learning when they leave school. They need help to recognise and develop their unique interests and strengths and they need to feel that they matter. They can then move on to take control of their career pathways.

Learning to manage learning

Developing career management skills, particularly self-awareness, will help students to understand their learning needs and to express them. This helps teachers to decide what learning is a priority for them. It creates a foundation for the co-construction of teaching and learning.

Graph with student self awareness on bottom axis and ability to express learning needs on the vertical axis.

If you cannot view or read this diagram, select this link to open a text version >>

Suggested strategies

Most schools have policies and programmes aimed at personalising learning. Schools can dovetail career education and guidance with other school strategies designed to personalise learning and to develop students’ ability to take responsibility for their own learning.

A school can:

  • encourage teaching and learning strategies that motivate individuals to identify their own interests and strengths and to think about how they can develop these
  • encourage teachers to use their knowledge of students’ career aspirations to adjust their teaching programmes to help support young people to achieve their goals
  • design the career education and guidance programme to be flexible enough to respond to individual interests, strengths, and aspirations
  • frame the school’s pastoral care so staff see career development as one of its functions
  • identify students with specific career advice and guidance needs and provide ready access to ongoing career advice and guidance for all students who need it
  • provide opportunities for every student to learn how to independently access appropriate and coherent career information and use it effectively
  • support every student to maintain an ongoing learning and career plan and to take responsibility for reviewing and progressing their plan.

Students with specific needs

Students who are at risk of leaving school undecided about future pathways or unprepared for transition to the workplace or further education are a priority. The most obvious students at risk are those whose school achievements will not provide them with entrance to preferred post-school education, training, or work. But students who are considered successful at school can still be at risk of leaving school without well-developed career management competencies or a fully considered career direction. Students who have a large number of post-school options open to them may lack the skills and support to assess available information and make appropriate decisions.

Research has identified groups of students that may have particular career education and guidance needs: Māori students, Pasifika students, migrant students, and refugee students. Other students in need of special consideration might include: gifted students, students with special needs, and students who may be disadvantaged by their family background.

Career education and guidance in schools contributes to several of the broad outcomes and goals of

Ka Hikitia – Ka Hāpaitia | The Māori Education Strategy, and the Pasifika Education Action Plan 2020–2030.

Identifying students with specific needs

To identify students likely to be at risk, schools can monitor indicators like attendance, general achievement, literacy and numeracy, health, behaviour, stand downs, and low motivation to take part in learning. Classroom teachers, form and whānau teachers, and deans are well placed to identify students who may be at risk using these indicators.

Schools need to know:

  • when students are nearing the end of their schooling
  • which students appear to be underachieving or under-motivated
  • which students are likely to have difficulty in competing equally for education or training places and jobs
  • whether any groups in the school are statistically over-represented in unemployment figures
  • which students have not developed their career management skills well enough to achieve their potential, including those who have made decisions about their futures without appropriate exploration and consideration, or have unrealistic plans
  • which students (and families) have limited understanding and experience of the world of work and tertiary education and training.

Clarifying issues of need

While careers service efforts were focused on the "hard to help", many other young people, who would not be targeted under the current criteria, were clearly in need of more support than they were currently receiving … those who were dropping out of academic courses that many were said to have chosen without sufficient preparation or access to comprehensive, impartial information.

(Marian Morris, Mark Rickinson and Deborah Davies, 2001, p21)

Published on: 04 Aug 2009