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Life after school

Lower Sixth Futures Week

Exeter School’s Lower Sixth have enjoyed an inspiring week of preparation for life after school in the form of Futures Week.

They attended a series of lectures, workshops and other activities focused on developing one or more of three key strands essential for future success; employability, careers and university.

Day one, on Wednesday, was spent with Paul Mattin of Wilderness Solutions who focussed on maximising teamwork, leadership and personal development.

Lower Sixth Former Hope Evans said Paul taught them the importance of good teamwork.

“Our first challenge was to design a free-stranding team flag and catapult, with the end goal of attacking the other team's camp with water balloons,” she said.

“After break, each team became sub-teams in a larger group. This helped us learn to work in larger teams to reach a common goal.”

In the afternoon, pupils discussed online safety with Allison Havey, co-founder of the RAP project, which promotes awareness for teenagers negotiating social media.

Lower Sixth Former Charlie Hayman said she was a charismatic and believable talker who discussed touchy topics such as porn, rape and their online "tattoo".

“She shared with us some striking real-life stories from people she had known or spoken too about such topics, and the interactive nature made it a talk that I won't be forgetting anytime soon,” he said.

The morning of day two focussed on developing interpersonal and interview skills and selling yourself effectively.

Head of Sixth Form Mrs Marsh, Study Supervisor Dr Bawn and Careers Adviser Mrs Cheesman explained preliminary stages on how to prepare effectively for an interview, in advance of submitting forms for the Interview Scheme in October. The majority of the session involved working in groups of three to practise asking and responding to a range of interview questions.

The importance of body language upon first meeting someone was the subject of Judy Salmon’s session.

“The importance of avoiding negative subconscious actions such as slouching and poor posture were underlined as key areas in order to present ourselves in the best way in business, such as in networking events,” said Deputy Head Boy Daniel Wilcock.

Alumna and branding expert Joanna Murchie discussed the ever-increasing importance of a consistent and effective personal brand, where many pupils found about optimising search engine results to a LinkedIn profile, so even before interviews, they can be put in the best light.

“She also advised on the best use of LinkedIn, such as being part of groups, which might give access to many people who might want to get in touch about applying for a job,” said Daniel.

Day three was spent on looking after yourself and others.

School Chaplain Revd Tom and Deputy Head Mrs Fairweather gave an informative talk about mental health and the issues facing young people.

Lower Sixth Former Sarah Downs said: “We learnt about how listen to others and recognise mental health issues facing ourselves and others.

“I felt like this talk was useful and we’d like to thank Mrs Fairweather and Revd Tom for their time.”

Pupils then learnt about running their own business from a former pupil.

Alumnus Giles Humphries created his own start-up business, Mindful Chef in 2015, along with other close friends and alumni.

He explained how Mindful Chef delivered food boxes to the public within the UK which are of a high quality, containing a choice such as fish, meat and vegan ingredients.

Giles saw how there was a potential gap in the market for gluten-free food and the team believed that in the near future such food would grow greatly in popularity, hence the innovative idea of healthy and nutritional meals.

“The talk not only allowed for our year to generate an understanding of the way in which a business is set up, but also the problems which are encountered along the way, such as ensuring capital and gaining publicity for the product,” said Lower Sixth Former Phoebe Solway.

Several A Level Business and Economic pupils were given another discussion based talk with Giles, who generously gave them the opportunity to ask more direct and business related questions.

“This was particularly beneficial as it gave us a further insight concerning certain aspects of Mindful Chef as a business, for instance the methods of ensuring their excellent quality products, various sources of finance used, how the production line in the warehouse works and their specific aims and objectives when starting up the business,” said Phoebe.

The afternoon concluded with fun Commonwealth-themed games run by the Sports department.

Lower Sixth Former Sam Sims’ House, Crossing, chose to be New Zealand.

“This meant we had the chance to dress up as Maori warriors, with painted faces and grass skirts,” he said.

“The various countries competed in activities that included relay races, water balloon fights and clumsy egg catching games that didn’t end well.

“Everyone enjoyed a fun afternoon.”

Day four was the Lower Sixth Business and Enterprise Day where pupils worked in teams to create a social enterprise which would benefit the homeless. They prepared a presentation, video and displays boards which they presented to a panel of judges including Jeremy Hateen, Head of Housing for the YMCA – Devon, Mike Johnson, Head of Chulmleigh Community College; Mr MacEacharn, Exeter School’s Bursar, Ms White, Head of Art, Ms Barnes, Junior School Maths Coordinator and ‘The Guru’ Mr Bell whose advice they could access by appointment.

Former pupil and film maker Owain Astles inspired the pupils with a talk based on his experience of making a documentary about homelessness in Bristol.

Lower Sixth Former Rob Stoyle said it was very enjoyable and realistic, as they had to present in front of a panel of judges from outside of school.

“The day consisted of many different aspects of running a business, such as advertising and presenting, each with separate awards.”

Parents and pupils attended the annual Higher Education Forum on Monday evening to understand the process of applying to university and to consider issues such as the UCAS personal statement, student finance and how to get the most out of university. There was also the opportunity to hear about degree level apprenticeships as a viable alternative to the traditional university route. The key note talk was on Competitive Admissions.

Robbie Pickles, Head of Undergraduate Student Recruitment, UCAS Council Member & Chair of HELOA, University of Bath; Katherine Pagett, on behalf of the Director of Undergraduate Recruitment (UK), University of Birmingham; Joanne Tallentire, Head of Admissions, Queen Mary, University of London; Phillip Paige, Vice President Talent & Acquisitions, JP Morgan and Mark Armitage, Student Employability & Academic Success, University of Exeter gave expert advice to pupils.

Preparation for UCAS took place on the final day and pupils spent time writing their personal statements with the assistance of their Heads of House.

Head of Sixth Form Mrs Marsh said the Lower Sixth were given the opportunity to think about the next stage of their Exeter School journey and beyond.

“It is so important to think about personal branding and preparation for interviews and future employability skills such as networking,” she said.

“It has been an exciting week, with external speakers providing a perspective on assisting them with their future plans.

“They will now be fully supported and guided to make these plans, whether it be a gap year, university or apprenticeship application.”

Careers Adviser Mrs Cheesman said the week was designed to give pupils the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge on many issues centred around careers, employment and higher education.

“Making the week as interactive and engaging as possible created a lively and purposeful atmosphere and equip our young people with the necessary tools for their next steps after Exeter School.”