Kirkcaldy High School (KHS) in Fife has worked hard to embrace the full spectrum of options out there for young people moving into the world of work from school, and its team of passionate staff supports its pupils as they take the next steps on their chosen career path, whatever they may be. Through DYW (Fife) and several programmes and partnerships with local businesses, colleges and bodies, the team coordinates and facilitates positive career destinations and contextualised learning opportunities to support pupils in making the transition from school to employment.
With DYW (Fife) as the mechanism to bring it all together, the school has had some incredible results for businesses, young people and wide-reaching benefits for the local community. From collaborations with CHAS, Costa Coffee, Migele Experience, Glam Candy, Proto-pic and Exterity, Kirkcaldy High School has some exceptional success stories to tell.
One of the biggest successes of employability at KHS is the annual ‘S3 Employability Week’, where third year students are off timetable and taking part in workshops, placements or career sessions with business leaders. Pupils also experience working with local causes and charities, such as CHAS, to explore volunteering as a route to employment.
Each year, the school also holds a careers convention with local employers taking stands to engage with pupils at a crucial point in their school development, as they consider their future subjects and careers. This offers pupils the opportunity to engage directly with businesses which offer insight into local opportunities in the world of work, and to tailor their school career to their preferred route into employment. To date, this has included a diverse range of sectors and businesses from the RAF to Fife College. In line with feedback and suggestions from pupils, to date this has also included employers such as Dunfermline-based beauty therapy college, Glam Candy, electronic components distributor, Proto-pic and IP video and digital signage technology experts in Dalgety Bay, (and winners of a 2020 Queen’s Award for Enterprise) Exterity.
Additionally, there is an adjacent ‘S2 Learning Fair’ – a marketplace type event for its second-year students, and their parents, who can visit stalls for each subject and look at the associated qualifications. As the ‘S3 Career Convention’ is the next day, the team at Kirkcaldy High School ask employers to set-up their stall up a day early, and buddy up with the relevant school subjects to show examples of how to use these subjects as a route to tangible career opportunities.
Some local employers have gone above and beyond in support of increasing employability, such as local hairdressing salon, Migele Experience. For the last four years, Dom from Migele Experience has run work experience programmes. The three-day placements include an evaluation and developmental feedback on their skills, progression and behaviour, with Dom taking the time to interview all candidates for the role as part of the experience.
Another fantastic example from KHS, is its contribution to the Fife-wide Costa Coffee Project. Last year, 62 pupils from across Fife came to Kirkaldy to meet with the Costa Coffee team. The day included discussion with Costa Coffee staff about different career routes, opportunities and apprenticeship programmes. After a team challenge to design a future Costa and present back to the group, several young people were offered work experience at the Kirkcaldy branch of Costa Coffee for the afternoon. Following this, some were offered further mentoring, shadowing or a 6-week work experience programme. Out of the original 62 pupils, 16 went forward with various development opportunities at Costa Coffee, with three Kirkcaldy High School pupils receiving offers for full-time employment. The project has been so successful that other businesses, such as Sainsburys, are considering a similar opportunity in future.
The school has built strong community ties through its work with DYW (Fife) and invites the growing collective of local businesses to its annual business breakfast event. This platform celebrates the successes of the year, informs businesses on school priorities and activities, and encourages employers to share what they are looking for in the workplace. Where relevant, these learnings are transferred into the curriculum and additionally, the session allows the school to provide feedback to employers to help make business processes, training and experiences better for its young people.
The role of the DYW Coordinator at KHS is pivotal, streamlining information, building relationships and keeping the network connected and informed in a fast-moving environment. This role ensures that teachers can focus on the classroom, whilst also staying close to potential opportunities for their pupils. All staff regularly share opportunities, feedback and networks to support the wide-ranging ambitions of their pupils, creating a stream of weekly opportunities for learning experiences out with the classroom. From bringing in employers, to arranging local business tours or employer visits, the teachers at KHS work hard to ensure that in every year of school (from S1 – S6) pupils are made aware of different experiences and broad opportunities across all of Fife.
Furthermore, KHS has seen a huge boost to the confidence of its young people in terms of how they feel about engaging with employers. From learning what to say in interviews, knowing what to wear and how their individual skills and characteristics can be transferred into the workplace, the growing confidence of pupils as they engage with DYW (Fife), is tangible.