Brighter futures and more informed choices at Farnborough Academy

DANCOP worked with 120 learners to explore their options as part of a “Bright Futures” event, empowering them to make more informed decisions about their GCSE choices.

As part of Bright Futures, a drop-down day delivered on site at Farnborough Academy, DANCOP delivered a series of interactive workshops to encourage 120 year 9 learners to consider their options at GCSE and beyond, and how they might impact their future career choices. There’s no right answer – learners are specifically instructed to consider university routes alongside vocational options and work-based learning such as apprenticeships. The primary aim of the activity is to give the young people the tools to identify the best pathway for them, based on not only their aspirations but also their preferences and how they work best.

The session formed part of a wider day offered by Farnborough Academy to year 9, aiming to inspire the learners to explore their options ahead of selecting their GCSE choices for the following year. Introduction to education pathways is a session run by DANCOP’s geographical delivery teams, and sits within the introductory phase of the “Routes” strand on our progression framework. This makes it a perfect session for this year group at this stage of their academic career, as it supports them to make an informed judgement about their options moving forward.

The session specifically works to explore myths around higher education and break down the initial barriers that can come from attitudes towards university study in particular. From staff feedback it is likely that this initial myth busting exercise is a key part of the success of the session, as it allows learners to understand the different pathways and options that come under the overall umbrella of “higher education”, which encourages engagement.

Following the sessions over 77% of the learners reported an increased intention to progress to higher education, likely due to the broadening of their horizons in relation to the many different options and routes available within higher education. Similarly, following the session approximately 91% of the learners reported feeling the same or more likely to agree with the statement “I have enough information to decide which higher education option would suit me best”.

While not without challenges – the evaluation findings, for example, suggest the inclusion of information about how to apply for different routes, as well as exploring what they are – the session had the intended outcome of encouraging learners at the earliest opportunity to consider their choices and which subjects will help them to get to where they need to be. This is an essential time in a young person’s academic career to speak to them about higher education so they are able to be confident in their choices and have the information they need to decide on the best route for them.