The aim of our careers programme is to ensure that all our students are prepared for life after Ark Acton Academy, for university and for the world of work. We particularly want to help students develop the skills and knowledge needed for the changing job market which we set out to achieve through giving students a range of opportunities to engage with employers, further education and higher education providers through their time at the Academy.

Ark Acton Academy uses the Gatsby Benchmarks as a guide to plan our careers guidance programme. As part of our commitment to informing our students of the full range of learning and training pathways on offer to them, we are happy to consider requests from training, apprenticeship and vocational education providers to speak to students.

Ark Acton Academy also proactively seek to build relationships with these partners as we plan our Pathways and Enrichment activity throughout the school year to ensure that providers have multiple opportunities to speak to students and their parents across years 7- 13, to offer information on vocational, technical and apprenticeship qualifications and pathways. If you would like to find out more about working with us as an employer, requests by providers should be sent to the Academy’s Pathways Lead, Nickael Briggs or if you would like to contact us specifically in relation to 6th form progression, please contact our Head of 6th Form Lynsey Evans,


[Links to Gatsby benchmarks shown in brackets for each strand of the Ark Ambitions programme]

Key Stage 3 programme



All pupils explore who they are and who they would like to be in the future [identification of personal skills and qualities]        
  • PSHE unit: Being Me [1]
  • PSHE unit: Relationships [including achievements and aspirations] [1]
  • Guest speakers – students will receive a minimum of two career talks from a variety of fields throughout the year [5]


All pupils explore how self-esteem and confidence can have an impact on behaviour, achievements and future aspirations.        
  • PSHE unit: Barclays Life Skills – students will explore career pathways and the skills necessary in the 21st century workplace through the Barclays Life Skills programme. [1]
  • Guest speakers – students will receive a minimum of two career talks from a variety of fields throughout the year [5]


All pupils further explore who they are and begin to refine their future career aspirations.        
  • Pathways Assembly Programme – all students will take part in the assemblies’ programme that exposes students to the choices available to them at Key Stage 4. Subject leads will share the overview of their subject along with its importance to future career and pathway choices [2 & 4]
  • Yr9 Parents information evening – all students along with their parents are invited to hear about the GCSE options and how they can best make informed decisions. [3 & 8]
  • PSHE unit: First Give – students develop key skills [collaboration, communication, presenting, problem solving] through a social action project
  • Year 9 Careers Day [Drop down Day] – All students will be off timetable for the day to explore their vision about their future lifestyles. Students will discover the reality of adult life and get the opportunity to network with professionals from a wide range of career sectors. [2 & 5]
  • PSHE unit: students will follow up their experience of the careers day with a unit that focuses on value-driven career choices. [1]
  • Unifrog online platform is rolled out forv all Year 9 students as part of the careers day. This provides students with the opportunity to explore career interest and pathways ahead of making GCSE subject choices.
  • All students, along with their parents receive a 1-to-1 meeting with a member of the senior leadership team to discuss and decide appropriate GCSE choices [3]


Key Stage 4 programme



  • Independent Careers Advice – all students have the opportunity for a 1-to-1 meeting with our independent and impartial careers advisor. [1, 3 & 8]
  • PSHE unit: Work Experience Applications & Preparation. All students learn how to writing personal statements and letters of application in preparation for work experience in Year 11. This is followed up by a unit of work on ‘how to make the most of work experience’ [1]
  • Guest speakers – students will receive a minimum of two career talks from a variety of fields throughout the year [5]


  • Work Experience [**this is on hold due to covid-19 restrictions and has been replaced where possible with virtual experiences] – all students will spend a week at a work experience placement. We work closely with Work Experience Partners to place students in areas of interest. Students also have the opportunity to find their own placement to ensure it is in an area of interest. [5 & 6]
  • PSHE unit: Work Experience reflection. All students reflect on their work experience and consider their next steps in relation to their career and pathway. [1]
  • Independent Careers Advice – all students have the opportunity for a 1-to-1 meeting with our independent and impartial careers advisor. [1, 3 & 8]
  • Guest speakers – students will receive a minimum of two career talks from a variety of fields throughout the year [5]
  • Sixth Form Open Evening – all students are invited to our sixth form open evening to discuss their options and hear from subjects leads about the Key Stage 5 opportunities at the academy. [1 & 7]
  • Attend A Level/Professional Pathways taster lessons [Level 3] in order to give them an insight to the requirements of key Stage 5 study [7]
  • NCS Challenge – all Year 11 are given the opportunity to take part in this initiative to develop skills for employment. [5]

Key Stage 5 programme



  • Ark Apprentice Day - All students are given an in-depth briefing on Apprenticeship opportunities in three sectors, then compete with one another for one of the jobs. Each student receives a one-on-one interview, participates in a typical ‘group task’ and is assessed using an online skills assessment. [1, 2 & 5]
  • University Visit – All students will visit a minimum of one university [Reading University or Queen Mary University] [1 & 7]
  • Guest speakers – students will receive a minimum of two career talks from a variety of fields throughout the year [5]
  • NCS and DofE Challenge – all Year 12 are given the opportunity to take part in these initiatives to develop skills for employment.
  • Service – All students will participate in a minimum of one hours work experience a week in school. Students will help with lower school classes or enrichment sessions.
  • Access to Unifrog software to support with research into appropriate and aspirational apprenticeships and university courses. This is supported through a PSHE scheme of work [1, 2 & 8]
  • Academic Mentoring – All sixth form students receive regular academic mentoring from the sixth from tutor team [8]
  • UCAS Day– All students participate in a UCAS drop-down day in which they hear subject-specific advice for applying to university given their areas of interest. [1 & 7]


  • ‘Futureproof’ Induction Day – All students participate in a day dedicated to ‘jobs of the future’ in which they analyse big trends affecting the labour market, then explore the specific labour market information in their desired fields. [2,5]
  • Ark Alumni Forum – All students invited to an evening event in September where they can mingle with ex-Ark students who currently attend top universities. [7]
  • Year 13 Progression/UCAS application programme through pastoral tutor programme [8]
  • Networking Evening – All students attend a ‘networking event’ where they have the opportunity to mix and ask questions of representatives from approximately 40 different employers/industries. [1, 5]
  • Academic Mentoring – All sixth form students receive regular academic mentoring from the sixth from tutor team [8]
  • One-on-one Personal Statement Support – All students receive a one-on-one 20 minute personal statement session with an external expert
  • Guest speakers – students will receive a minimum of two career talks from a variety of fields throughout the year [5]
  • ‘Preparing for University Life’ PSHE Support – In the summer term, all students participate in a PSHE unit of work in which they consider the financial, social and health/wellbeing implications of living more independently. [1]



We measure the success of the Programme in the following ways:

  • Destinations Data – we monitor destinations data each year, to ensure we understand what our students go on to do after Ark Acton Academy and whether the Information, Advice and Guidance they received during their time here has had an effect.
  • Pupil reflections – pupils reflect on their experiences when they visit workplaces or hear from speakers. This allows us to identify which experiences pupils enjoyed and which they didn’t, as well as providing a record for the pupil they can use in future applications.
  • Evaluation of the programme – each year, we have an annual review of the programme with Ark Schools, who assess how many of the Gatsby Benchmarks we are meeting and identify strategic goals for us to work on over the next year.


    How to apply for higher education

    Information on applying to higher education, including the options available, tips on making your application, and how the process works, is available on the UCAS website: Year 12 students can use it to search for undergraduate courses. Year 13s can use it to track their applications.

    Complete university guide

    Great website for looking up universities’ ranking for different subjects, include break down on student’s satisfaction and employment rate.

    Other advice and resources

    Apply to Uni
    An excellent university comparison site full of unbiased advice on how to choose a university

    Whatuni helps students find the right university and it allows them to search for a course by Entry Requirements or by University Ranking. The website is full of advice, student reviews, free prospectuses, open days, videos and much, much more.

    The official website for comparing course data from UK universities and higher education colleges.

    University of London Taster Courses
    This website has links to taster courses in a variety of subjects taking place at universities and colleges across London.

    Open Days
    This website allows you to browse the university and college open day calendar and book your free place. It also has loads of advice on what to do at open days to make the most of the experience.

    Student Finance
    The official Website for all up to date information and to apply for student finance.

    Bright Knowledge
    Bright Knowledge is the essential guide to careers, education and student life.

    Careers Advice

    Watch the career videos and take the buzz quiz to find out which career might suit you.

    Career advice for parents.

    Useful online courses to widen your skills and knowldege

    MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) website at:

    Future Learn

    Virtual work experience


    Virtual-work-experience-links-1 (1).pdf

    For help finding high-quality work placements, visit the Mayor’s Fund for London’s Access Aspiration website:

    Please follow this link to access the Ark Acton Careers Bulletin (Autumn 1 2019)

    Other useful websites

    The Student Ladder
    For 15-18 year old students offering advice on A levels, degrees and alternative programmes for 18 year olds and also work experience, gap year and career options.

    Pure Potential
    Free of charge support for students making decisions about their future, including plenty of useful advice on applying to university, school leaver programmes, work experience and choosing a career. There is also a section for parents

    Register for updates on work experience, school leaver schemes, apprenticeships and career events in Finance and Law.

    Arch specialises in getting young people into great careers in IT, Digital, Marketing, Financial Services and Business through the Government backed Apprenticeship programme. is the fastest-growing online resource for school and college leavers across the UK and hosts a range of opportunities from apprenticeships and sponsored degrees to gap year and free training programmes.

    All About School Leavers
    An excellent site full of the latest Apprenticeships and School Leavers Programmes, advice on writing cover letter and interview tips. You can also take a Career Test.