Grofar shortlisted for UK Careers Development Awards

We are delighted to have been shortlisted in the “Best Practice in the Use of Technology in Career Development” category of the UK Career Development Awards run by the CDI.  We have strong competition from another great company, SDS, who have been shortlisted twice, once for their ‘My World of Work Live! and also their ‘Virtual Reality Careers in Construction’.

We are passionate about raising student aspirations and supporting careers services throughout the UK and offer a solution to help schools achieve the best quality careers advice and guidance through recording, evidencing and reporting careers provision. Grofar provides careers services with a range of tools to manage and reduce administration on complex processes. Business, Alumni and Parent databases provide valuable services to schools and provide students with access to meaningful business engagements. Students have access to an online careers passport and are encouraged to take ownership of their careers development. Student can record skills, activities, business engagements and have access to a wealth of careers resources.

See the Grofar benefits & features here.

The UK Careers Development Awards dinner takes place in Leeds on 8th March at the Hilton Hotel in Leeds and is hosted by the CDI to celebrate the achievements of the career development sector. The headline sponsor for the CDI awards is the Royal Airforce and our particular category is sponsored by Prospects.

Our thanks go to the team at the CDI who are doing a sterling job to promote the professional standards of careers and who must be proud of all that they’ve achieved since they were formed in 2013.

We would like to congratulate all the shortlisted individuals and organisations and we are proud that Grofar has been chosen to be amongst them. We wish all nominees the best of luck and look forward to a great evening.

New Ed-Tech Tool Launched To Help Schools Seek Support

The planned shake-up of school funding means many head teachers may need to rely more and more on their own fundraising activities.

Teachers unions claim the new National Funding Formula sets the basic level of funding too low and it has been calculated that 98% of schools will face a funding cut for every pupil. Interim General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Malcolm Trode, sums up the potential problem as “the government is trying to slice up a cake which is too small”.

The changes have prompted Grofar, the popular careers guidance management solution, to develop a specially designed platform to help schools reach out to their local communities and bolster their fundraising efforts and access valuable services.

Managing Director James Robertson explains: “Our new ‘Community Heroes’ platform is essentially a funding and pledging service to help schools communicate with the local business community, parents, alumni and any other potential sources of funding and services. Whether it’s support for one-off pledges such as a fund-raising event, or a more significant project such as a campaign to fund a new playground, ‘Community Heroes’ will reduce the headache of fundraising for schools and help to give children the best possible opportunities.

“We’ve developed this platform to provide primary and secondary schools with the resource to build a powerful support network. Let’s not forget that being part of a community and engaging with that community is a really important part of a child’s overall education. ‘Community Heroes’ is a tool to help schools do that”.

The platform launch forms the focus of Grofar’s presence at Bett, the world’s leading education technology event, which begins at ExCel in London today (25 January).

“We are so confident that this will help schools to raise funds”, adds Robertson, “that if the app hasn’t paid for itself within the first 12 months, we’ll refund the upfront cost. It starts at just £249 for primary schools though, so I’ve absolutely no doubt that this will very quickly prove its worth and help schools through some potentially challenging times. The schools we’ve spoken to are already incredibly receptive to this idea”.

The platform includes a storyline for each fundraising initiative to offer a clear measure of success and to give recognition to all those who offer support. There will also be a ‘Community Heroes’ badge provided to funders, which can be placed on their websites by way of public recognition.

James Robertson says: “If the government does push ahead with its proposed new funding formula, we’re not suggesting ‘Community Heroes’ will solve the problems that this may throw up. But the schools we’ve spoken to have told us, loud and clear, that this idea will really help them to bring focus to their fundraising and provide them with access to valuable services at a time when a concerted effort could well make the difference to the future prospects of their pupils”.

‘Community Heroes’ is part of a broad initiative from Grofar to improve student aspirations and attainment while providing engagement with employers to develop core skills and provide experiences of the world of work.

Come and visit Grofar at BETT – BETT Futures Stand 1 BFS12

Grofar are delighted to be exhibiting at BETT on 25th – 28th January. Come and visit us at the BETT Futures Stand 1 BFS12.

At BETT we will be launching our new Community Engagement platform for schools and will be engaging with attendees to demonstrate our innovative Careers Guidance Management platform. Our new platform “Community Heroes” provides primary and secondary schools with access to Employer, Parent and Alumni networks so that schools can harness valuable services and funding from their communities to support core activities and enhance facilities.

For more details, please visit our BETT page: http://www.bettshow.com/Exhibitor/Grofar-Ltd

View the full BETT Invite

Grofar Secures Major New Contract in the North East

Ten schools in the north east of England have taken on popular careers guidance management solution Grofar, in a contract that will offer consistency and continuity of careers support across the area.

The North Tyneside Learning Trust is a collaboration of 46 schools working in partnership with employers, universities and colleges to improve education and life chances for all children and young people.

The Trust’s decision to opt for Grofar was taken in order to manage and improve the careers service it could offer within its secondary schools, and maintain information on one unified platform.

CEO of the North Tyneside Learning Trust Kehri Ellis said: “The Trust is keen to support its schools to manage careers education more effectively. One of our 10 secondary schools already uses Grofar software, which was made available to them as part of the Gatsby Career Benchmarks Pilot, so it made sense to offer the same careers management system across our schools as part of a 12 month pilot project.”

James Robertson, Managing Director of Grofar, said: “We are delighted to be providing Grofar to the North Tyneside Learning Trust. It’s a fantastic collaboration and I know that our management solution is going to make a big difference to the way careers guidance is delivered. Having everything in one place, easily monitoring progress and working hand in hand with the students will really help the Trust ensure all students are given the best possible future opportunities and go on to meet their full potential”.

CASE STUDY: The Orchard School, Bristol

Why did you choose Grofar?

“I needed a tool that could automate time consuming activities such as gathering business contacts and manage administrative processes”

After joining the school and taking over the role of Careers Co-ordinator a year ago; I soon found myself swamped with paperwork. Stacks of documents and folders made information difficult to manage.

Being able to quickly refer to student records and having notes on hand when students walk into my office is important. I wanted to store all information in one place so that it was easily accessible to other members of staff in the school. I was looking for a system that would record details of meetings with businesses and allow me to quickly reference contacts and services.

I needed a tool that could automate time consuming activities such as gathering business contacts and manage administrative processes such as scheduling meetings and planning events. My main objective is to focus my attention better and spend less time on administration.

How are you using Grofar to support your CEIAG programme?

“I am able to identify students with low activity, highlighting those at risk and who may need extra support”

My first priority was to create a careers plan using the wizard. This enabled me to approve my strategy for the year. I have created a document not only for personal reference but as a source to share with SLT and governors. There is a website version of the careers plan which we will use to keep parents informed of our careers service provision.

Grofar allows me to track student careers activity. What is also helpful is being able to identify students with low activity, highlighting those at risk and who may need extra support.

Grofar is great for organising careers events for students. I can invite targeted groups of students to events and manage responses and attendees online. Grofar identifies which students need chasing and provides me with tutor details. After each event, I send out the online feedback form so that I know how well the event was received. The feedback helps me to decide which events to invest resource on and better understand the student’s needs.

Previously I stored all business contacts in a large spreadsheet. I have imported these into Grofar where I can easily manage the services that businesses provide to the careers service. I can record a complete log of engagements students have with businesses.

Which features stand out for you?

“I don’t have to enter students manually and I know the information is always up-to-date.”

“The student passport is great for engaging students and keeping them informed of events and activities.”

I like the fact that student information is synced with the school SIMS system. I don’t have to enter students manually and I know the information is always up-to-date. Target groups are imported for me so I can arrange events and direct information at groups of students easily.

The student passport is great for engaging students and keeping them informed of events and activities. I am able to see the resources that students view and how they rate them so I can target them with even more relevant information.

The business and alumni databases particularly stand out. I am aware of the value that building a network of contacts who can provide services to the careers service can offer. I like the fact that we can invite business and alumni to the school network and they can manage their own profiles.

How has your experience been?

“Grofar is user friendly and I have found it easy to navigate around the system.”

Grofar is user friendly and I have found it easy to navigate around the system. Whenever I have needed help, someone from the Grofar support team has always been on hand to guide me through the necessary steps.

Grofar is a large system that provides a great deal of functionality. I started with the basics and am now starting to use more features as I need them.

What are the benefits for students?

“The action plans help students to identify skills they need to work on and set goals to achieve them.”

I like the fact that students take ownership over aspects of their own careers development. The action plans help students to identify skills they need to work on and set goals to achieve them.

It is much easier to reach all students and keep an eye on activity. Students have access to a library of careers resources and a noticeboard for event and activity updates. Students have direct access to the careers service and can message me for advice at any time.

Most students find it hard to recall experience when it comes to writing personal statements and application forms. It is really useful to have a log of activity and skills development which they can refer to when applying for FE courses or apprenticeships.

What are the benefits to the school?

“I am happy we will always be ‘OFSTED’ ready”

I provide the school SLT and governors with a careers plan so they are informed of the careers service provision for the year. We have agreed budget, CPD and leadership meetings to ensure proper management of the careers service.

By keeping all our information in Grofar and by using the tools they provide, I am happy we will always be ‘OFSTED’ ready and can easily demonstrate the service and careers guidance we are providing to our students.

We now have a platform for measuring the impact and effectiveness of external providers so we can work out whether the school is getting good value for money. The careers service can provide more support to students with the resources available and I am able to put in place a legacy going forwards.

The careers service can provide more support to students with the resources available. I am putting in place a legacy so that going forwards, changes to the careers service team will not affect the service that is provided.

CAREERS GUIDANCE: The Poor Relation in the Education Sector

Earlier this month the Chairs of the Education, Skills and Economy Committee slammed the Government’s failure to address inadequacies in careers guidance as “unacceptable”, demanding that Ministers act to improve provision as a matter of urgency to ensure young people are equipped with the right skills to succeed in the modern economy.

The Committee published a report in July which highlighted that careers guidance is poor in many schools and, with no sign of the long-promised strategy for careers education, the Co-Chairs of the Committee Neil Carmichael and Iain Wright, accused Ministers of “burying their heads in the sand” in a way that “smacks of complacency”.

The concerns raised by the Committee are shared by careers guidance experts too: James Robertson, Managing Director of the popular careers guidance management solution Grofar, says the Government’s lackluster response is damaging the future prospects for many students:

“We work with schools across the country and the sense of frustration we encounter is often palpable: careers leaders want clear, consistent guidelines and communications from the Government to enable them to be absolutely clear about their responsibilities, strategies and options. But there’s often just a vacuum. If schools cannot provide their students with the best possible careers service, then inevitably that will have an impact on their prospects and we see first hand the effect this has, as careers staff struggle to meet student needs with little or no support from Westminster”.

The Government has responded to the Committee in the last week, stating on 15 November: “we are determined to tackle the patchy state of careers provision and raise its importance and profile in schools. Just as every pupil deserves access to a good school place, every young person must have access to high quality careers education, information, advice and guidance”.

Robertson is not impressed, but says all is not lost: “The Government has already conceded that careers guidance is ‘patchy’ and needs tackling. Many schools have now lost patience and rather than waiting for the strategic vacuum to be filled by the Government, they’re implementing advice from organisations such as Gatsby and adopting Grofar to improve their schools provision whilst at the same time, reducing their costs. Students need quality careers education, information, advice and guidance right now, they don’t have the luxury of waiting. The future of today’s students is more uncertain than ever, equipping them with the key skills they need to survive in Britain’s changing climate is now more important than ever.”.

And Robertson’s views are shared at the coal face. Hayley Galpin, Careers Co-ordinator at The Orchard School in Bristol, says: “As a Careers Co-ordinator, I soon found myself swamped with paperwork: stacks of documents and folders made information difficult to manage. I now use Grofar, which means student records and notes are always on hand when students walk into my office. My main objective is to focus my attention better and spend less time on administration. It’s great for the students too: they take ownership over aspects of their careers development with action plans, goals and a great tool to help them with writing personal statements and application forms.

“I can easily identify students with low activity, highlighting those at risk and who may need extra support. Students have direct access to their careers service and can message me for advice at any time.

“I am happy we will always be ‘OFSTED’ ready and can easily demonstrate the service and careers guidance we are providing to our students”.

As the Government seems to be distracted by crisis after crisis, from Brexit to Trump, it seems inevitable that the careers guidance function within the sector is being nudged into finding alternative solutions. But when the solution is so affordable, does the Government need to lose sleep over its inaction? Careers guidance may feel like the poor relation within the education sector but there’s a strong core developing which is helping itself and finding its own way, rather than wait for the long-promised but, so far, non-existent Government strategy.

Evidencing student employability skills and careers guidance provision

Recording employability skills, careers guidance provision, activities and events is essential to evidencing the quality and the impact of your careers programme and helping your school to provide students with the best possible careers service.

Evidencing skills and careers guidance provision is made easy with Grofar as these 4 steps demonstrate.

1) Add activity to a student

Activity is added to a student timeline automatically after a scheduled activity, event or one to one counselling session. Activities can also be added manually by a member of the careers service or by a student themselves. Activities can be added to individual students or entire groups of students.

Add Student Activity

2) Review activity on the student timeline

Activity is record against a student timeline so that a full history of careers guidance provision is logged.

Student Activity Log

3) Employability skills and provision overview on student profile

See a summary of student employability skills and provision on the student passport. The skills section shows the number of activities where skills have been evidenced and a spider chart to highlight strengths and skills gaps.

Student Passport

4) See provision recorded in the student database

Provision for each student is highlighted in the student database so you can ensure each student receives the necessary careers guidance and those lagging behind can be easily identified.

Student Database

 

Grow your Employer and Alumni network

Developing a strong employer & alumni network is key to providing a high-quality careers service.

Having access to external services and extra resources enables careers services to a provide more opportunities and great careers guidance at minimal cost.

Maintaining contacts, services and SLA’s is admin intensive. Grofar takes care of this for you.

Grofar have released the Business and Alumni portals so that employers and alumni members can complete their own profiles and manage the services that they can provide your school.

Learn how to develop your Employer and Alumni network in minutes and find out what your community can do for you.

4 ways to build your employer and alumni network

1) Email & Newsletter Invite

Include the registration link in emails or your termly newsletters to Employers and Alumni. Alternatively add the link to your school email footer.

Business email & newsletter invite

2) School Website Invite

Include the html registration link provided on your school website.

School Website Invite

3) Email List Invite 

Copy a list of email addresses and send out invites.

Business email & newsletter invite

4) Spreadsheet Import

Provide us with a spreadsheet of existing business or alumni contacts and we will import them for you.

Spreadsheet Invite

3 benefits that will save you time

1) Employers & Alumni manage their profiles

Employers and Alumni manage their own profiles and services and take care of the admin for you.

Business Profile

2) Get notified when a new Employer or Alumni registers

You will receive an in-app and email notifications when employers and alumni register.

Business Registration Alert

When an employer or alumni registers you can approve or decline requests.

Approve Decline Registration

3) See what services are available to your careers service

Use the Business and Alumni Databases to explore the services provided. Group businesses and alumni and record interactions and engagements.

Business Database Table

 

Grofar selected for BETT Futures

At Grofar, we are honoured to be selected for BETT Futures, the ‘home for the world’s most inspiring edtech startups’.  Grofar fulfils a long term ambition to help improve the careers service in schools and raise student aspirations. Grofar was founded by members of the trusted, award-winning team that created Schoolcomms.

Extensive research performed by Grofar identified how important (and often undervalued) the careers service is within schools and how tough a careers leader’s role can be.

The Careers Guidance Management Solution, was born to save Careers Leaders time by significantly reducing administrative burden. Grofar is an all-in-one software solution that manages all the complicated processes performed by school careers services. To this end, Grofar has been a ‘game-changer’ in pioneering a new solution to evidence CEIAG and improve student outcomes.

Over the course of the BETT show we will demonstrate how to use Grofar to meet Statutory Guidance, satisfy Ofsted and achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks.

Grofar are excited also to be launching our new Employer Engagement platform at BETT. “Employers can offer a wide range of valuable services and resources to schools. Employers want to offer these services and support their communities but lack an easy means.  We have created a simple solution to empower both schools and employers and provide full circle engagement”, explains managing director James Robertson.

Grofar SIMS & MIS Integration – Grofar effortlessly syncs student data from your school MIS

We are very excited to announce that the latest update of Grofar now connects directly to your schools MIS system. Schools using SIMS, Facility CMIS, Progresso, Bromcom MIS, Integris G2 and SchoolBase can now sync all of their student information effortlessly.

Having quick access to relevant and accurate information is core to running a successful careers programme. Grofar imports school, student, teacher and parent data seamlessly. Data is synced daily so that information is always kept up-to-date.

Grofar have partnered with Groupcall to harness the power of their ‘Xporter on Demand’ service to provide a robust and secure solution.

“We were thrilled to have Grofar choose Xporter as their integration partner from a competitive field. As a business critical partnership, Grofar are joining the UK’s most trusted and successful provider of MIS integration services and will be one of the first to utilise our next generation ‘Xporter on Demand’ service. With our support, they were able to integrate with multiple MIS in record time. The Grofar development team have seamlessly incorporated the data sharing consent process into their product which puts schools in control of the data they share. The user experience and flow to get the data moving is very slick and flexible, and simple wizard based setup puts users in full control, making them one of our more impressive integrators.”

Adrian Bantin, Partner Manager, Groupcall Ltd

This is just part of our ongoing commitment to continually improve Grofar for the Grofar community and respond to customer feedback. If you would like to find out how Grofar can connect to your school MIS please contact a member of the team on 0117 315 5261 or email hello@grofar.com

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