The Beyond LIS team helps students prepare for life after school and keeps in touch with them for years after they have embarked on lives of rich variety. Specifically, that means careers counselling (helping students become self-aware about their careers potential and educating them about possible career paths), college counselling (advising and assisting students with their college applications) and alumni coordination (keeping in touch with and inviting LIS alumni to share their lives and career choices with our current students).
Justin Sands has been doing college counselling at LIS for more than ten years and, as the school has grown, so has the outreach for life after school. The number of graduates per year has grown as has the variety of destinations and study choices. Ten years ago, the Netherlands was only becoming a known destination; now it is one of the most popular countries to study in and this year we have two students starting their higher education at the Technical University of Delft, one of the most prestigious engineering schools in Europe. Brexit has made studying in the UK more challenging for students with EU citizenship, but we currently have two students studying at Oxford and one student studying at Cambridge as well two students of medicine. In Germany, we have alumni embarking on degrees in American studies at Leipzig, medicine in Freiburg, urban-planning and development in Cottbus, business administration in Berlin and architecture in Dessau. And we have recent graduates heading off to university in the USA, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, France and other countries. Beyond LIS will continue to actively support students in research and getting into the university or college that is the best fit for them.
Our alumni show the same rich variety in their chosen career paths, be it as a police officer in Poland, a dentist in Aachen, an ER doctor in Leipzig, a civil servant in the Federal Migration Agency, a lawyer in Belfast, a carpenter in Leipzig, a doctor of Classics in Dresden, a flight attendant in Dubai, a social worker in the UK or a film actress in Germany. Alumni have come to speak to LIS students and successfully inspire, and Beyond LIS will certainly work to develop that remarkable resource.
This year, Nicola Edger (teacher of Global Perspectives and former member of the Parent Association) joins the Beyond LIS team to further develop our programme and to support the research into university offers and requirements, as well as developing the careers education further down the Secondary School. In her words:
Careers advice when I was at school consisted of a lengthy, computer-assessed questionnaire and a 15-minute meeting with the Chemistry teacher, whose advice most definitely would not have led me here (apparently, according to the questionnaire, I was suited to become a prison guard!). As adults, we know that career pathways are generally the result of a mixture of planning, spontaneity, luck and hard work, or ‘Planned Happenstance’, as the careers theorist John Krumboltz called it. In my view, a school’s role in this process is to equip our young people with the tools to navigate the world beyond its doors. Building up social skills, resilience, a growth mindset and self-reflection is done both in the classroom and outside of it; it is the job of a careers programme to help students draw out and make visible those skills and to link them, as well as the students’ emerging interests, to possible career fields. It is also the job of a careers programme to offer students as many insights, through as many avenues as possible, into the world of work.
Over the next year, one of my roles will be to build up the careers arm of the Beyond LIS offer to try to meet the vision of a careers programme summarised above. To achieve this, I will be individually interviewing all the Grade 10 students (and Grade 11 and 12 by appointment) both to support them in their post-IGCSE choices and to help make their work experience placements meaningful experiences. With the Grade 9’s, the focus will be on more general exploration, not only of career sectors but also the multiple factors (for example, values or geographical constraints) that lie behind our career choices. With the Middle School, careers education is integrated into their Perspectives and PSHE curriculums; that said, the greater flexibility of the Middle School programme allows us to be creative across the subjects in linking curriculum content to the world beyond LIS. Which leads to my final appeal: if you would be interested in supporting our Beyond LIS careers programme, please fill in the questionnaire that is coming out soon to create a database of people from a wide range of sectors who can help us in our mission to educate our students about the huge diversity of opportunities beyond the school gates.
Justin Sands & Nicola Edger