On Friday 20th March, schools across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland closed in a bid to help reduce COVID-19’s rate of infection. This sent a ripple through the education system and most other affiliated parties – as a Foundation working with young people in their transition from school to the working world, we have had to adapt our content to better reach our partner schools, whose students are predominantly learning from home. After extensive conversations with said schools on what type of content would be most useful, we are now full steam ahead on creating tailored presentations, videos, and worksheets.
Presentations & Videos
Presentations are the bread and butter of our content – we have been updating our CV and Interview Workshop material to make it accessible to students learning from home. To make this material more engaging and easier to follow, we’ve broken down our two workshops into key sections, highlighting the principal elements of the CV writing process and performing well in an interview. Each section will contain a presentation covering a topic – e.g. ways to improve a CV – and a short video which will explore the topic in more detail. Creating these videos has come with a few challenges, including development and post-production – home furniture has found many additional uses in the process!
Worksheets and Activities
The final sections of the two-workshop series are an activity and a worksheet, where students can apply what they have learned in CV writing and typical, competency-based interview questions. The CV writing one will be an exercise in formatting a CV, and the latter will give the students the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions amongst themselves and with the Foundation team.
Career Advice and Q&As
Aside from the interactive activities, one area we want to explore is webinars – live talks or Q&As with industry experts and professionals from different careers to provide students with insights on how to get started on certain paths. We have plans to ask students what sort of industries they’d be most interested in so we can cater to their needs; then, we would take questions ahead of time and make sure we engage with a few professionals in the most useful aspects of how they have worked towards their current position. A major problem we’ve encountered in our partner schools is that students are simply not aware of how many opportunities are out there for them – we must continue to inspire them in this regard, even as school closures are ongoing.
Feedback and Dialogue
What is extremely important in this endeavour is dialogue – feedback on students’ work must stay consistent while they are working from home, so that they can extract maximum value from their schoolwork as well as the material we provide. To this end, we’ll work closely with teachers to review their submissions, provide sample answers to everything in our worksheets, publish guides to the questions with lengthier answers, and set up focus groups with whom to discuss work more closely. Following the feedback we’ve been getting – that reviewing homework live would be the most effective form of critique – we intend to follow up on the material we ask students to learn from and worksheets we ask them to complete, so that our online operations can be as useful as a usual Patrick Morgan Foundation business day.
The crisis continues to affect young people from disadvantaged backgrounds disproportionately as well as the organisations who engage with local schools – the online transition has been a challenge. It’s also been an opportunity, though, to learn valuable lessons about students’ needs, lessons we can apply to the long run after the strenuous jump over this hurdle. Creativity as a Foundation has been key – using the knowledge we have accumulated from a year’s work, we continue to dedicate ourselves to supporting and inspiring young people, even through this grey spring.