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Industry Links and Careers Education Information and Guidance (CEIAG)

St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore is committed to being at the forefront of innovation and we work hard to foster high quality and meaningful links with industry to ensure that our students achieve the very best opportunities on offer.”

In the 2021-22 academic year we were delighted to be one of a small number of schools to successfully secure a place on the ‘Catalyst Schools’ programme.  Catalyst Schools is a Design Thinking programme for post-primary schools that seeks to empower school leaders by giving them the skills to create a culture of innovation and deeper learning across the school.  

A number of our staff secured professional learning fellowships with Catalyst through which they gained an opportunity to develop a ‘hacking’ and equity mind-set and applied a design thinking-based approach to their practice in school.  As a school we are excited to have embarked upon this journey through which we aim to transform our school culture to better prepare all students for post-secondary education, career, and civic life. 

Through this programme we are proactively action planning to ensure that the practice across St Joseph’s remains cutting edge and that the most up to date research in relation to teaching and learning and pastoral care provision is implemented across the school.  We are proactively strengthening St Joseph’s connection to local industry to ensure our students are ready to enter the workforce of tomorrow.

Careers Education Information and Guidance (CEIAG)

Careers education is an integral part of the curriculum at St. Joseph’s and has a vital role in guiding our young people towards a place of employment in the future. In the first three years, careers education is delivered through Education for Employability lessons and in Year 10 this assists the students with making informed subject choices for Key Stage 4 study.

Our Year 10 pupils also receive detailed careers information from their subject teachers and Head of Departments as well as attending a Year 10 options evening where parents and pupils receive detailed presentations from the Head of Careers, Mr P Corrigan, and Head of Curriculum, Mrs O McCourt.

Our school curriculum team liaise closely with the careers department and are determined to ensure a learning pathway which maximises both the learner’s potential and their career options. In Year 12 all students have careers lessons which seeks to inform them of the various training, work and study options available to them at 16 years of age. Year 12 students also undertake valuable work experience which helps to increase their knowledge of specific jobs and work places. Year 12 pupils also take part in an A-level subject choice afternoon and mini careers fayre where they are able to engage with subject teachers, A-level pupils and businesses to help inform their choice for progression at Post-16.

Each year group avails of a dedicated careers workshop delivered by Young Enterprise N.I. where they engage in a range of interactive activities to explore a theme relating to the world of work. Our careers officer, Nuala Madden, has a very important role in school delivering individual tailored advice to our pupils at important transition points like Year 10, Year 12 and Year 14.

The school is a member of the Dungannon Area Learning Community where careers staff meet regularly to develop resources and skills to enhance the teaching of careers in their schools.

Careers staff also regularly attend events organised by Mid-Ulster Council to enable them to stay fully informed of career and skill needs in our local area. Throughout our CEIAG programme in school there is widespread commitment to capacity building in terms of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and STEM CEIAG (Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance).

A-level students avail of interviews in August by our Senior Management Team at the beginning of Year 13 and Year 14 to help guide subject choice and align it with the pupil’s specific career ambitions. Year 13 and 14 pupils have Careers timetabled in classes and have individual attention and consultation as required in the careers suite.

Our Year 13 pupils receive detailed presentations from Ulster University, Queen’s University, Scottish Universities, Universities in the Republic of Ireland, and South West College. Work experience is also organised for Year 13 pupils in term three to further develop their knowledge of specific careers and work place environments. Year 14 pupils receive presentations from South West College on Foundation Degrees and Higher Level Apprenticeship opportunities as well as from Student Finance N.I.

Recently we have introduced a training programme for life at university, which seeks to fully inform our Year 14 pupils of the many life challenges university can present. The vast majority of our pupils progress to third level education where they graduate and gain employment in an array of public and private sector settings emerging to become valuable employees, entrepreneurs and valuable contributors to society.

Generation Innovation Work Experience Programme

As part of our partnership with Catalyst NI and other leading industry figures all of our Year 13 students complete the Generation Innovation work experience programme.  Generation Innovation is an innovative approach that reimagines traditional work experience and energises the imaginations and aspirations of our students by increasing their knowledge of 21st-century skills and awareness of future careers in innovation.  Students receive Design Thinking training and learn how to work as part of a team. The new skills are then put to the test to solve a company challenge, developing a solution before pitching it to the partner company and their fellow students

By linking with Catalyst we aim to inform, upskill and empower our students to thrive as the leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of the future. 

Generation Innovation offers our students the opportunity to develop a range of transferrable skills:

  • Communication Skills
  • Teambuilding
  • Build Emotional Resilience
  • Learn Problem-Solving Skills
  • Creativity
  • Presentation and Pitching Skills
  • User-centred Design
  • Design-led Thinking Skills
Impact Day

Year 13 students in St Joseph’s are in the privileged position of having been selected to complete an Impact Day as part of their Generation Innovation experience.

An Impact Day is a one-day, fully immersive design-thinking experience for our Year 13 students facilitated by industry specialists from Catalyst NI. Through this programme students become skilled in the design-thinking methodology which leads them from identifying a problem, working through several stages to iterate and design a prototype/solution.

On this journey, our students learn important employability related skills, including user-centred design, working in a team and critical thinking. The impact day will also help foster softer, intangible elements such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and resilience.

Patrick O’Donnell

Student Invent: Catalyst NI

My name is Patrick O’Donnell and I am a Year 13 student at St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore. I am currently studying ICT, Maths, Physics and Business Studies for A Level. I choose these subjects because they offer me the opportunity to develop the skills needed for the world of work.

Throughout my time at St Joseph’s the school has supported me and my passion for problem solving, creativity and trying to see things differently and how they could be made better. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Catalyst NI to gain an insight into the world of work and gain a range of softer skills demanded by employers. 

Catalyst is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that supports entrepreneurs’ innovation and helps lead them to commercial success.  Catalyst recognises that an innovative mindset and an entrepreneurial ecosystem are the key drivers of the knowledge economy in Northern Ireland.

I took part in Catalyst’s Generation Innovation programme which I just loved. I worked collaboratively as part of a group to solve one of the biggest dilemmas facing Power NI.  We worked together for a full week to develop a proof-of-concept idea about how we could “inspire people to become prosumers of renewable energy”. 

We had the opportunity to showcase our presentation to the entire board of Power NI.  Presenting to the board of such a big company was a daunting experience but so rewarding and really improved my self-confidence. I know that this experience has given me a real insight into the world of work and equipped me with key transferable skills moving forward. 

Taking part in Generation Innovation was only the start of my journey with Catalyst- it opened up other doors.  After taking part in Generation Innovation I began to think about how the insight I had gained to the world of work could be opened to more young people my age.  I was acutely aware that the pandemic had closed off the opportunity of work experience for so many students across Northern Ireland and indeed the globe.

I also came to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the financial struggle of local small businesses. Having gained entrepreneurial and innovation skills through the Generation Innovation programme I wanted to help create a solution. 

I secured a place on the Catalysts Student Invent Competition which offers grants for the best proof-of-concept ideas and provides support to help your idea become a reality. I worked with the team at Catalyst to develop a proof- of-concept idea on how a video/live-streaming platform could be developed to give an insight to anyone interested in a particular field or profession and how businesses could profit from the information they provide to their audience. 

I was then given the opportunity to pitch my proof-of-concept idea to a panel of five judges.  I have never been more nervous in my life! Despite my nerves my presentation was well received and I was successful in gaining a place in the final five contestants. The next stage of the programme was attending a live awards ceremony in the ICC Belfast. While I didn’t secure the top place I was the only school aged pupil who made it so far and I am so proud that I competed competitively with undergraduate and postgraduate students. 

Working with Catalyst has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  I know that the opportunities offered to be at St Joseph’s made this possible.  Our school has developed strong links with Catalyst and I am really excited for the Year 13 students who will begin their journey with Catalyst in March. I wish I could do it all again and I know the links I have made will support me as I move forward in my career.