21 June 2023
Mrs Maria Young, Director of Higher Education and Careers
Our students’ futures have been very much on our minds in recent days, with our Lower Sixth Higher Education Conference, an alumnae careers panel session for our youngest students, and Year 10 students taking part in a test to help them plan their career goals.
Lower Sixth students spent 2 ½ days off-timetable last week at our Higher Education Conference, focusing on their next steps. Sessions included ‘Making your UCAS application’, and writing a persuasive personal statement, with careful guidance to get this crucial process successfully under way. The students began by reflecting on their personal strengths and drilling deep into the reasons why their chosen subject appeals to them so much.
On Thursday, the Lower Sixth had an excellent financial education workshop, from Elent, to help them understand student loans, budgeting, taxation, pensions and investment, and useful tools for future financial self-management. Great takeaways included the 50/30/20 budgeting rule and remembering that financially, we should aim to be the best we can, where we are, with what we’ve got.
We are often privileged to benefit from the insights and experience of returning Woldingham alumnae. During the conference we enjoyed a range of presentations from several recent ‘old girls’, including a particularly engaging session by Zi Zhen Soo, who is undertaking a software engineering degree apprenticeship with Thales, in Crawley. This set several students researching degree apprenticeships as an alternative to the more traditional degree path, and one that is growing in scope each year. We also heard from 2022 leaver Jemima Smith about gap year opportunities and challenges and had an extremely useful session with four undergraduate alumnae, Sophie Denny, Keisha Frimpong, Elizabeth Hankinson and Emily Russell, who students quizzed with all sorts of questions about university life. Many thanks to our inspirational speakers.
Woldingham alumnae were once again to the fore at our Marden Careers Fair on Tuesday 20 June. Students in Years 7 and 8 heard about careers from a panel of six alumnae working across sectors including medicine, law, TV production, film and politics. The girls were fascinated to hear their stories, often involving some unexpected twists and turns along the career path. They were impressed to hear about high-profile productions, cases and projects our speakers had been involved with. The most frequent enquiries from students concerned potential salaries, but they also asked probing questions about making sound degree choices, how to network successfully and what top tips the alumnae had to share. Feedback was particularly positive for those speakers who had started out on one path but had the courage to reflect and move in a new direction when they realised they were not feeling as fulfilled as they had hoped. It was a relief to hear that important decisions – even about degree choices – do not have to dictate the rest of your life. A good introduction to listening to your heart when making life-changing decisions.
Also on Tuesday morning, our Year 10 students were engaged in their Morrisby assessment. This searching test is regarded as the gold standard in schools for profiling individual aptitudes, strengths and ambitions. The students’ answers result in a very detailed report and analysis, which will help them to define and take the right steps to achieve their career goals. They will receive their profiles next week, during their Careers Day, and these will make vital, fascinating reading for the students and their families.
With several more ‘Futures’ events to come over the next few weeks, we are really excited to be looking at the huge opportunities that lie ahead and empowering our students to make the best possible choices for themselves. Opportunities are there to be seized and I am very pleased to share that Eloise W, Upper Sixth, has just been awarded a prestigious Bulkeley-Evans travel scholarship. This is a highly competitive award open to students at HMC schools who are planning an international project of high social value for their gap year. Eloise will travel to Thailand to pursue a path of her own creation, working with a doctor to set up a clinic teaching isolated communities about public and mental health, empowering them to train others. It really is a project with genuine sustainability at its heart. We very much look forward to hearing all about Eloise’s adventures when she returns to the UK.