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The value of networking - David Andrews

This is the first of what we plan will become a regular series of monthly short articles written specifically for the careers leaders’ community of practice. Each article will focus on a particular topic directly relevant to the role of careers leader. At the launch of the community of practice it seems appropriate to start with the value of networking and sharing practice with other careers leaders.

The careers leader is a highly networked role. To do your job effectively requires you to work with almost every other member of staff in the school or college, both individuals such as the head of sixth form, PSHE leader or tutorial programme manager, SENCO or head of learning support and groups such as tutor teams, teachers of careers education, heads of department or course leaders. The job also involves working with a large number of individuals and organisations from the wider community outside the school or college including, for example, employers, colleges, universities, apprenticeship providers, careers guidance service, enterprise coordinator. The only other role with an equivalent degree of internal coordination and external networking is the SENCO or head of learning support.

Yet in another sense the careers leader is quite an isolated role. There is no-one else in the school or college with a similar set of responsibilities with whom you can share experiences and ideas. It is no surprise that careers leaders currently participating in the careers leader training programme welcome the opportunity to talk to other careers leaders and compare notes.

In the days before responsibility for careers guidance was devolved to individual schools and colleges, the local careers service or Connexions would organise careers associations where careers advisers and careers teachers could meet once or twice a term to be updated on developments and to share practice. Many of these local groupings have since closed although some have survived. Some of the larger academy trusts have established support networks for careers and in other areas careers leaders themselves have taken the initiative to set up a local network.

We live in an era of competition between schools and colleges yet career leaders want to pick up ideas from each other. Such collaboration was a strong feature of the Gatsby pilot in the North East and is now being replicated by the careers hubs. The CDI’s new Community of Practice for Careers Leaders provides a nationwide opportunity for careers leaders from across the country to share experiences, ideas and practice, whether you are a member of another local network or not.

David Andrews is an independent consultant, a former policy adviser to the CDI and co-author of The Careers Leader Handbook

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