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.

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”.

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.

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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‘Careers advice should be a core part of a young person’s schooling’

This week the Government’s Commons Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy concluded that the lack of good careers provision in schools in England was harming young people’s job choices and having a detrimental effect on the economy.

In a report, MPs said: “We recommend that Ofsted introduce a specific judgement on careers information advice and guidance for secondary schools, and set clear criteria for making these judgements.”

“The Common Inspection Framework should be amended to make clear that a secondary school whose careers provision is judged as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ cannot be judged as ‘outstanding’ overall.”

“Likewise a secondary school should be unable to receive an overall judgement of ‘good’ if its careers provision is judged to be ‘inadequate’.”

This is a crucial time for schools in England to ensure that their careers advice service is fit for purpose. At Grofar we understand the importance of this and the impact that good careers advice has on student’s futures. Running an effective careers service is time consuming and labour intensive – this is where we can help!

Grofar is a complete careers administration solution, available to schools from just £495 per annum. Grofar manages careers service processes and provides a central location for all careers information. Grofar is the solution for schools who want to improve the careers service they offer to students and maximise their staff potential.

Speak to a member of our friendly team for further information by emailing info@grofar.com. To sign up to a no obligation 30-day free trial please visit www.grofar.com.

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Adrian Lyons from Ofsted says school’s provision for enterprise and employability “is less effective than it could be”

We recently came across a video on Ofsted’s YouTube channel where Adrian Lyons, Her Majesty’s Inspector for Ofsted, talked about schools not monitoring the quality of provision in this area.

In the video, Adrian talks about how school’s monitoring of the quality of the provision is currently lacking, and that the training of teacher’s within this area is not as effective as it could be. He also mentions that many schools do not currently record the activities that students are involved with, making it hard to keep track of what they are actually learning – suggesting there is still work to be done in this area.

At Grofar, we understand the importance of engaging students with businesses in order to raise their careers aspirations, but that currently the process for Careers Leaders can be very time consuming – which is where we can help.

Grofar offers a complete careers administration system for schools who want to improve the careers service they offer to their students and relieve their staff of much of the admin burden. Two features of Grofar Careers Solution include Business Database and Business Comms, which allows Careers Leaders to easily manage the school’s relationship with local enterprises.

For further information about Grofar, including the features of the Grofar Careers Plan and the Grofar Careers Solution, please email info@grofar.com  to speak to a member of our friendly team or visit www.grofar.com to sign up for a no obligation free trial.

Careers Silver Bullet?

In Sir John Holman’s 2014, Gatsby report he said that there was no “silver bullet” that would of itself transform the quality of careers advice in schools. Instead, he said schools needed to provide a series of measures to a high standard.

His views are based on extensive research in the UK, Canada Germany, Holland, Finland, Ireland and Hong Kong. The English government has welcomed the eight Gatsby Benchmarks believing that they provide an important framework of activities and philosophy of what good CEIAG looks like.

The Benchmarks cover all aspects of CEIAG, from achieving a stable careers programme and making this known and understood by students, parents, teachers, governors and employers to providing personal career guidance, best provided by a qualified and registered career adviser. There are also benchmarks for learning from LMI, encounters with employers, FE, HE and other learning providers, work experience and linking curriculum learning to careers.

Career professionals will applaud the focus but for hard worked career coordinators and career leaders, the level of expectation, planning, management and organisational skills should not be under estimated. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was asked to calculate the cost of providing such services and estimated it would be £207 million in the first year and £173 million a year thereafter, or just under £45,000 per secondary school in England. Professional career guidance and management and admin skills of this breadth do not come cheaply.

At Grofar, we cannot of course offer a silver bullet but what we can do is help schools achieve many of the objectives set out in the Gatsby report, as the table below shows:

 

Gatsby Benchmark How Grofar Supports This Benchmark
1. A stable careers programme: Every school and college should have an embedded programme of careers education and guidance Easily create a professional school Careers Plan with templated information

Action Plans can be created for students

2. Learning from career and labour market information: Every pupil, and their parents, should have access to good quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities and the support of an informed adviser to make best use of available information. Specific portals for different users

One to One Meeting Organiser will help facilitate face to face careers advice to build confidence and motivation.

Careers Noticeboard

Resources Library – will provide access to online tools.

Destination Data collection tool

3. Addressing the needs of each pupil: Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each pupil. Careers Dashboard

Individual Student Passports

Student Target Groups

Individual Student Action Plans

Caseload manager

One to One Meeting Organiser

4. Linking curriculum learning to careers: All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. Schools can link to curriculum information in Careers Plan in order to determine and plan curriculum integration activities
5. Encounters with employers and employees: Every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. Business Database, Business Comms and Business Signup to record contacts

Alumni Database, Alumni Comms and Alumni Signup to record contacts

6. Experiences of workplaces: Every pupil should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience Work Experience Organiser linked to Student Action Plans will offer high quality work experience linked to Student studies

Work Experience Placement Manager to manage process

7. Encounters with further and higher education: All pupils should understand the full range of learning opportunities (academic and vocational) that are available to them. Event Planner to help organise higher education events

Action Plan to allow recording and planning of Students Careers focus and direction.

One to One Meeting Organiser will help facilitate face to face careers advice to build confidence and motivation.

8. Personal guidance: Every pupil should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a career adviser. Student Action Plans to record student aspirations

One to One Meeting Organiser will help facilitate face to face careers advice to build confidence and motivation.

Resources Library – will provide access to online tools.

 

Grofar offers a complete careers administration system from just £495 per annum for a school with under 800 students, making it an extremely cost effective option for schools who want to improve the careers service they offer to their students and relieve their staff of much of the admin burden.

For further information about Grofar, including the features of the Grofar Careers Plan and the Grofar Careers Solution, please email info@grofar.com  to speak to a member of our friendly team and to sign up to a no obligation free trial.

 

Press Release: Software company launch new solution for schools in response to increasing demands on Careers Leaders

Grofar have launched a new software solution for schools, an integrated set of tools that enables Careers Leaders to improve the service offered to students, save time and meet statutory guidance more easily as well as helping them to achieve the recommendations set out in the Gatsby report.

The company has created the platform in response to the Government’s drive to increase students’ aspirations and ensure that students leave school “prepared for life in modern Britain”. In April 2014, the Gatsby charitable foundation produced the “Good Careers Guidance” report by Sir John Holman, who identified eight benchmarks for what good career guidance should look like.

Speaking of the launch of the software, James Robertson, Managing Director of Grofar, said:

In 2013, OFSTED commented that only one in five schools were effective in ensuring that students were receiving the level of careers information that they needed. We carried out our own research and it’s clear that Careers Leaders are under considerable time pressure and lack the tools that are required to do their job well and that a software package could reduce administration and make the careers programme for schools much easier to manage.

Grofar offers a great cost-effective solution to schools. Using the information from their existing MIS system, it will help them to meet the key requirements of the Government’s statutory guidance, as well as develop the career aspirations of students from a young age.

The cost of Grofar’s complete software solution starts from £495. For further information about Grofar, including the features of the Grofar Careers Plan and the Grofar Careers Solution, please visit www.grofar.com or email info@grofar.com.