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Leigh Academy, Longfield Academy and Wilmington Academy, recently held their first joint Trust year 8 options day in preparation for students choosing their GCSE subjects.

620 students participated in a whole day business style exhibition hosted at Princes Park, home of Dartford Football Club. Substantial planning went into the logistics of transporting groups of students to the venue as well as organising twenty five business stands for them to visit.

The aim of the day was to encourage students to consider study options in relation to possible future career aspirations. Exhibitors came from a wide range of industries including the armed forces, recruitment, the NHS, sport, engineering, hair and beauty and construction. In addition, a number of exhibitors were able to advise on apprenticeships and entry into the professions.

In providing exhibitors from a variety of sources, students also benefitted from the participation of several Trust departments- LAT Train to Teach, LAT Graphic Design and the LAT Business Managers.

We were also fortunate in having the participation of Canterbury Christchurch University to advise on University life, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) ambassadors and two Leigh Academy alumni who now own their own businesses- Ragbhir Sandhu of Mobile Bar Hire Ltd and Carl Lincoln of Wiser Wealthier.

For comments from our alumni, please see http://latworkingwithbusiness.com/leigh-academy-alumni-assist-year-8-options-day/ and http://latworkingwithbusiness.com/different-perspective-world-work/

Students were given a booklet pre-event with suggestions on the type of questions that they might like to ask exhibitors and were also encouraged to think of their own.

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Our hosts commented:

“As a club we were delighted to host the Year 8 Options Convention. It was great to meet all the students from the schools and talk to them about what other opportunities are available whilst working at a football club. We managed to gain lots of interest for work experience and also answered some questions about ‘what it takes’ to work within the football industry. It was great to get the message out to the students that it’s not just about kicking a football!” – Lauren Webster, Commercial Manager, Dartford Football Club

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Other exhibitors commented:

“I just wanted to say that the Year 8 options day was a great experience. The students showed such character and asked pertinent questions on how to consider their options and the possibilities for their future careers. Some were already so focussed on their path, whilst others said that they had spoken with businesses on the day that had made them think about new options.”  – Lynne Howe- Crea8ting Careers

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Weald Technology had a very busy time at the LA Trust Year 8 options day. We were promoting careers in Engineering and Design and spoke with a lot of students – some who already knew this was a career they wanted to pursue and others who we’re simply interested in finding out more about it. I hope they all went away with a clearer picture of what the possibilities are in engineering careers and the subjects they need to focus on” Phil Edwards- Weald Technology

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“It was very good to see many Year 8’s being given this information early in order that they might ultimately be better prepared. Some of these Y8’s had some very good questions”- Colour Sergeant IP O’Grady

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“I thought that the day was well organised with a good stream of pupils. I had a number of good conversations with pupils and it was good to dispel some of their stereotypes of careers in construction and widen their understanding of some of the professional and technical roles.”  – June Wilkinson- BAM Construction

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“Thank you for inviting the Inspire Hair Academy.  We really enjoyed the day. It was so professional in every aspect from set up to finish and above all a really friendly team” Clair Harradine- Inspire Hair Academy

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Comment from the Trust teams can be found here: http://latworkingwithbusiness.com/trust-teams-exhibit-year-8-options-day/

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Connect Plus Services wrote the following in their newsletter the day after the options event:

Choosing GCSE options can be a very difficult decision for students and Connect Plus Services helped the Leigh Academies Trust to support them in picking their future career path. Moses Ajala, Ken Whyte, Steve Pattrick and Cintia Bailey spoke to the students from the Dartford Cluster of Academies at their Year 8 Options Convention at Grassbanks Stadium (Dartford Football Club) on 17 January. There were around 600 students attending the event and they visited Connect Plus Services’ stand to talk about possible career paths in engineering and the options that they will need to take for their GCSEs. This was a busy and rewarding day for all. Ken Whyte said: “It was great that CPS was there to feed young ambition”. Moses Ajala, our STEM Ambassador, said: “It was so inspiring to talk to those kids and to show them what it’s out there”. Who knows, we may have even met our future employees, trainees or apprentices.

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We would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution to events such as this by STEM ambassadors:

Canterbury Christ Church University operating as Kent & Medway STEM coordinates the South East of England STEM Ambassador Hub to help inspire young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The ambassador that supported this year 8 events are part of this scheme. For more information about STEM Ambassador please visit http://www.kentandmedwaystem.org.uk/

Feedback from the academies and students was good. This included:

People were knowledgeable and willing to take the time to talk to you. They were very patient. Year 8s felt like they were the right age for this, at the right stage in their lives.

Year 10 Leigh Academy students filmed much of the event and their video can be seen here

We hope to run this event again next year-sincere thanks to all who participated.