A*spire is about the individual. It is about making the right choice for your career and learning, with the freedom to explore your options. JLC’s tailored careers support in the extra-curricular A*spire programme helps students to realise their potential and excel in their next steps.
It may seem that there are too many career options for students to choose from, or not enough to find the right path for you. A*spire guides students in the right direction. Through the programme students have access to employer talks, personalised one-to-one sessions with a leader, alumni talks, and the Oxbridge and Curriculum conferences. David Cooper, our college-dedicated Oxbridge specialist, said that the careers team helps students to find “an area that you’re interested in”, with students still being able to walk away and say “actually, having looked at this, that’s not for me”..Careers support and guide students but ultimately help them make their own decisions.
David Cooper emphasised the importance of developing soft skills in A*spire, which are essential for university and employment, “getting students ready to talk about the work that they do. All these students are superb at writing it down, but it’s a different skill to talk about it”. At many research-intensive universities students work in groups, so it’s important students are confident and comfortable verbalising their ideas. Group presentations, team working and personalised tuition in A*spire allows students to adapt to a new interactive way of learning. The Trust JLC is part of with Wilberforce and Franklin Sixth Form Colleges means “students get the advantage of meeting students who are not their peers; learning, testing, and that’s a really valuable process”.
An A*spire member and Cambridge applicant said that the support helped them to research all their options with guidance. A*spire “showed me the different routes I could take in my ambition to become a lawyer. Not only was there a focus on university choices (what factors to consider when choosing our 5) but they also arranged speeches from past alumni on accessing apprenticeships and taking less central routes into law.”
A*spire helps students reach beyond with subject-specific support. For students who want to go into performing arts, A*spire Conservatoires offers personalised coaching and for talented biologists A*spire Veterinary facilitates work experience opportunities. Subject specialist leaders help students “look at careers and routes that have special requirements” (David Cooper) through the variety of programmes that are “fitted around a particular career route.” Meeting extra requirements (such as work experience) may be necessary for the course but also, when students put their application in for an apprenticeship or university, “you can show that you’ve done more than just apply and have tested it out; it’s a well grounded application, I’ve done some specialist work on it”, through opportunities such as Hinterland, UNIQ, and the Sutton Trust.
Students deserve to find the path that’s right for them. Although some may feel that elite institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge are out of reach, A*spire highlights that these universities reward the talent and passion of students, not their background. David Cooper said that “they are not elite institutions for ‘elite’ people, they are accessible for any student at JLC”. While elite universities are open to all, understanding the application process can be tricky; A*spire provides the best support. Each course has “specialist requirements, if you want to be a vet you have to have a certain amount of experience, there’s certain questions to anticipate at an interview and you want someone to prepare you beforehand for that. We offer the same support a person would get in any institution. That standard is available to students here.”
Last year four JLC students progressed to study at Oxford and Cambridge. John Leggott College has an Oxbridge admission rate 10% higher than average, despite being non-private, with 20% of Leggott students who apply to Oxbridge receiving an offer. With A*spire, students’ progression opportunities are “significantly different” because A*spire Oxbridge focuses specifically on the application, “supporting students to make sure they’re aware of their academic subjects, what’s going on in the media and are pushing themselves”. Through mentoring each half-term students are given the chance to discuss their wider reading and independent research, prepare a personal statement, prepare for interviews and for subject-specialist exams, as well as David Cooper writing a “highly individualised” reference that “focuses specifically on the person”.
John Leggott College is full of aspirational students. The Careers Team provide opportunities and guide the talented learners onto the career paths they choose through specialised support and mentoring. A*spire helps students make “an application of a high standard to give us the best chance for success” (A*spire member), in whatever field they choose.
Chloe Smith, Journalism Intern.