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Career education projects conducted in New Zealand in recent years – these include Designing Careers and Creating Pathways and Building Lives – have helped identify a number of factors that support effective practice in career education and guidance in schools. These factors are reinforced by international studies. In summary, effective practice will:

  • be based on the particular needs of the school's community
  • be designed to meet the needs of all the school's students
  • become a whole-school responsibility
  • be planned, structured, and co-ordinated
  • involve the local and wider community
  • respond to the changing nature of further education, training, and work.

Active leadership

The profile of career education and guidance in the school is raised where the principal provides active leadership. Whole-school engagement has been most successful where the principal links the vision for career education and guidance with the school’s curriculum and structures. Staff commitment is more likely when the principal conveys the school’s career education strategy to all staff.

Vision and goals in strategic and annual plans

Career education and guidance is more likely to be sustainable where school boards of trustees include a vision for career education and specific, measurable goals in strategic and annual plans.

Using evidence to inform planning

Monitoring, evaluation and review ensure that planning flows from evidence and career education and guidance practice is fit for purpose. School priorities for career education and guidance need to be based on reliable data and other evidence that provides information on the particular needs and views of the school’s community of students. Schools undertake self-review in a number of areas and need to apply these processes to career education and guidance. Evidence on students’ career interests and intentions also provides valuable information for school-based curriculum design.

Team approach

Schools that fully embrace and appropriately resource a team approach to career education and guidance are more likely to develop co-ordinated programmes and successfully incorporate career education in school structures. A team approach broadens staff ownership and commitment to career education. Wider involvement in analysing student needs, identifying gaps and planning solutions helps staff take responsibility for including aspects of career education in teaching and pastoral care.

A co-ordinated programme

To ensure coverage and continuity for all students at all levels, it is important to plan and co-ordinate all learning opportunities, interventions and interactions. The connections with learning pathways provided through funding sources such as STAR and Gateway are particularly important.

Incorporated in school-based curriculum and school structures

Successful school programmes establish career education and guidance as an essential component of the education a school provides. They provide career education and guidance learning opportunities through pastoral care systems, learning areas and specific career-related learning activities. They link career education to school initiatives in pedagogy, as career is a very important learning context particularly for older students.

Personalises career education and guidance

Learning and career planning helps students to gain an understanding of their own interests, abilities and potential. It helps students to develop the skills they need to learn about the range of career options open to them, set goals and make decisions. This planning is most effective when it includes discussion and support from family and whānau.

Caters for target groups

Schools need to gather evidence to identify the needs of specific groups of students, including those who may be at risk of leaving school unprepared for transition to the workplace or further education or training, and those with diverse needs. These groups include Māori, Pasifika, migrant, and refugee students but are not limited to these. It is important to establish appropriate goals for each target group, to plan how to meet their needs and to evaluate the effectiveness of measures put in place.

Involves family, whānau, and community

Families, whānau, and communities have a major influence on a young person’s career decisions. Encouraging family and whānau involvement in ongoing activities such as learning and career planning will build a shared understanding of students' strengths, interests, and aspirations. It is important that interactions with family, whānau, and community observe appropriate cultural protocols and are arranged for convenient times and places.

Sharing ideas with other schools

Networking between schools is vital for sharing information on effective career education and guidance initiatives and on activities that are taking place in the school’s region and around the country. Clustering is successful in fostering effective learning communities. It is important for secondary schools to understand how career education and guidance is provided in contributing schools, and vice versa.

Professional development

Schools need to identify the ongoing professional development needs of staff, and develop strategies, such as providing resources and ongoing learning opportunities, to support all teachers, including the career education team and teachers involved in pastoral care.

Published on: 04 Aug 2009