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.

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.

‘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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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.