West Midlands Mayor Andy Street praised Stockland Green School for its impressive careers programme when he visited to unveil a new policy to boost resources for children across the region.

Mr Street chose the Erdington school, which is part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, to unveil the first policy pledge of his re-election campaign ahead of polling day on May 2.

The region’s Mayor promised to fund dedicated careers advisors for 40 schools in the region’s most challenged areas and he held up Stockland Green as a ‘great example’ to others.

He said: “Stockland Green is showing how, through a structured and engaging careers programme, students from challenged communities can be inspired to understand that opportunities are there for them too.

“By funding these 40 careers advisors, I want to see this kind of success repeated across the region.”

Stockland Green was praised last year by Ofsted for the ‘tenacious’ approach of staff in driving up student aspiration.

During his visit, Mr Street was shown around the school and discovered how the curriculum helped students understand and engage with potential careers paths.

In the science faculty, he heard how clubs and activities – such as building an electric car – encouraged pupils to apply STEM learning in the real world. In the technology department, he talked to students in a computing class about how digital skills were important in all kinds of jobs.

In humanities he learned how events such as a week-long celebration of Black History Month allowed the school’s diverse student body to hear from local businesspeople from all backgrounds.

He also met with Hydraforce, an Aston-based company that has developed strong links with the school’s careers programme. Mr Street then spent time talking to students about their aspirations and heard how the school was helping them to engage with careers pathways.

Finally, the Mayor joined staff for ‘gate duty’ – saying goodbye to students at the end of the school day.

Andy Street relished ‘gate duty’.

Assistant Headteacher, Katerina Lee, who heads the school’s careers programme, told Mr Street about the school’s proactive approach to the subject, creating a ‘bespoke’ model for each student – and how she would like to do even more.

She said: “We could go one step further with this bespoke support if we had more people available to lead and guide those opportunities. Our children are great at taking up opportunities, but we would welcome more external offers.

“We do have an independent careers advisor, Yvonne, who specialises in children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), which is incredibly important.

“Yvonne works tirelessly with a small cohort of children who need a different level of support, in helping them transition to the world of work.

“These meetings are very valuable in making the transition out of school life comfortable for children.

“I would love to have a bigger team to provide more in-depth opportunities for all children.

“We need alignment and co-ordination to help match students to potential career paths which would work for them.”

She told the Mayor that working with businesses was key to the success of careers work, saying: “I would want to see businesses and industries opening their doors to provide children with a more direct pathway to working with them.

“Something that resonated with our children is that they can leave education at 16 and join a training opportunity – businesses can even work with them in Year 11.

“I want businesses to be more open to working with children in their final years of school to prepare them.”

Head of School Rebecca Goode said: “Having the Mayor visit us at Stockland Green School was a wonderful opportunity for our children to meet someone important and see how our region is providing and creating opportunities for them to thrive.

“I think Andy was impressed by what he heard and saw. Our curriculum ensures our children are prepared for when they leave us and go on to be active citizens in the community – even to jobs which might not exist yet!”

Mr Street said: “I am very grateful to Stockland Green for sharing their story with me and for the opportunity to meet their students to find out more about how careers work at the school is helping them.

“It was also great fun to do ‘gate duty’, saying goodbye to the students and meeting some of the parents too. Stockland Green is clearly a school that really connects with the community it serves.”

The Mayor went on to explain his thinking behind the pledge to fund more careers advisors.

He said: “It’s dedicated individuals who really shape young people’s lives, but they need the space to get to know youngsters and build relationships with them over time. That’s why I’m committing to funding these extra full-time careers advisors for schools across the West Midlands.

“We’ve got so many opportunities here in the region: jobs, training, apprenticeships, but often young people find it difficult to know what they want to do and to navigate the system.”

The Mayor explained the personal reason this manifesto commitment is particularly important to him:

“At school, I was not particularly studious or interested in most subjects. My homework was often ‘left on the bus’, I got away with the minimum I could,” he added.

“But one teacher – Jack Cook – helped to jolt me awake aged about 16. Suddenly I could see the link between academic study and the world around me. I got interested and ambitious. Without him I think I would have drifted.”

Main picture: West Midlands Mayor Andy Street was delighted to discuss careers with Stockland Green Assistant Headteacher Katerina Lee and Head of School Rebecca Goode.