In addition to DANCOP’s core offer and range of exciting activities and projects available for learners to get involved with to support their progression to higher education, DANCOP have offered an additional targeted layer of support for some schools across our region of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. This is in the form of a funded school role offer for those schools who have identified a clear need for having a DANCOP funded member of staff working within the school, allowing for close, direct and sustainable work with learners. This offer has promoted close collaboration between the school and DANCOP, and has allowed us to create a bespoke approach which fulfils the unique needs of the school in question. In this case, we review the success of the DANCOP funded Careers Mentor at Da Vinci Academy.
The success of the collaboration between DANCOP, our funded school roles and Da Vinci Academy is evident as we review and evaluate the work that has taken place over the 19/20 academic year. Over the year our DANCOP funded Careers Mentor role has supported Da Vinci’s strategic focus on Careers Information Education and Guidance. This role has allowed us to reach more DANCOP learners more frequently, supported supplementary activity and contributed to curriculum development.
The role has also enabled learners in the school to be supported on a 1:1 basis and in small groups, ensuring individual learner needs are met. The DANCOP funded Careers Mentor also coordinated and facilitated a variety of programmes through external providers such as E4E, Luminate and Unifrog ensuring learners can access the breadth of support available to them. Team DANCOP believes in the importance of not only being reactive to the needs of learners but also being proactive in improving the Careers Education Guidance offering for the future. This aim was further supported by the Da Vinci Careers Mentor who took part in city wide strategy meetings, providing insight and contributions that will be part of the legacy of DANCOP beyond the end of the project.
How has the role adapted during the academic year and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic?
When the Covid-19 pandemic reached the UK and schools closed in March, the DANCOP funded Careers Mentor at Da Vinci Academy rose to the challenge of adapting their great work to be able to continue supporting our learners. For those learners leaving Da Vinci in the summer, targeted post 16 mentoring, support and guidance was made available remotely. The Careers Mentor continued to support the online delivery of the Raising Aspirations programme and their attendance at online city wide meetings persisted.
The DANCOP funded Careers Mentor directly supported a group of year 11 learners throughout the months of April and May to maintain communication and support channels between the academy and the learners. Through persistent contact, the Mentor identified 25 learners who required enhanced support specifically around securing their post-16 destination. The Careers Mentor was able to offer tailored support to these learners including application writing, personal statement guidance and advice on applying for further education courses. By July of this year, the partnership between DANCOP and Da Vinci Academy has helped 23 learners secure their futures. 2 learners were left without a post-16 destination but these learners are still receiving this support.
What does that mean to the individual learner?
Monitoring our data and tracking are important to DANCOP so we can demonstrate our impact but equally important is each person’s experience with us. The work done this year can be demonstrated no better than through the words and experiences of the learners below (names have been changed), as recounted by the Careers Mentor at Da Vinci Academy.
“Through our ongoing encouragement, Harry applied for a series of prestigious apprenticeships. We supported Harry through the extremely competitive recruitment process by advising on his presentation and conducting mock interviews. Harry made it to the final 30 candidates for an apprenticeship with a high profile multinational organisation and said he thoroughly enjoyed the process and will find it invaluable as he moves forward with his career.”
“Tom had always wanted to join the Marines Core but had low expectations of himself and his prospects. This permeated through into his attitude to learning and his attainment in his core subjects. I (Careers Mentor) met with Tom to discuss his prospects and offered him the boost of self-belief Tom needed, telling him he was capable of achieving the GCSE grades he needed to enter the Core. I committed to supporting Tom with his application to the Marines in exchange for him applying himself in lessons. Within weeks his teachers noticed his attitude and effort had increased hugely. I utilised my contacts to arrange a meeting for Tom and an ex-marine which further lifted Toms aspirations. Tom’s parents have been in touch with us to express their gratitude for what the school has done and are in awe of Toms newfound enthusiasm to his future.”
Abiha told us in her own words what engaging in DANCOP activities had done for her:
“I have really enjoyed taking part in the different challenges that DANCOP sent out for us during lockdown. Some of the parts challenged me, but I learned more about higher education. I loved planning the trip away to a university, it gave me a lot to think about. I have really appreciated all the support that they have given me when trying new things, especially their support when I went for head girl. Thank you!”
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