For our next ‘Meet The Teacher’ interview this academic year, we are delighted to introduce Louise Badelow, who joined Eltham College in 2017 as Head of Careers. During this time she has completely reinvigorated the Careers Department, as well as become Head of Oxbridge. We caught up with her to find out more about her background before Eltham, and what her future plans are for Careers at Eltham. 

Where did you work before Eltham College?

Immediately prior to joining Eltham College I worked for Leigh Academies Trust, a multi-academy trust of non-selective schools in Kent. In this role, I was tasked with establishing their ambitious ‘Aspire’ programme, which aimed to broaden the horizons and raise the aspirations of high achieving, disadvantaged students. Before that, I was Director of Careers and Guidance at Newstead Wood School, which included working with Oxbridge candidates, as well as prospective doctors, dentists and vets.   

What led you to your current role as Head of Careers and Oxbridge?

Having spent over 25 years building a successful career within the recruitment, communications and advertising sectors, for a variety of reasons (including a significant birthday!) I decided the time had come to seek out a change of direction. Of course, the challenge then became deciding what this new direction would be. Adopting what I now recognise to be a famous career theorist’s principle of ‘planned happenstance’, I inadvertently stumbled upon a master’s degree in Career Management at Canterbury Christchurch University. This intensive year-long period of study enabled me to build on my pre-existing knowledge of the world of work, satisfy my desire for academic study (having not attended university after school), whilst at the same time provide the professional qualification I needed to work with young people in a school setting. It is fair to say that in the five years since I graduated, I have never looked back.

What has changed within the Careers Department since you joined Eltham College?

Since joining Eltham College I have sought to embed the very best practice when it comes to careers provision in schools. I refer to our programme as one of ‘Career Learning’, rather than the more commonly used term of ‘Careers Education’. This is because I firmly believe careers is not a subject that can be taught. Instead, my priority is to enable young people to build their own knowledge by learning about themselves and the opportunities available to them. I aim to achieve this by aligning our Career Learning Programme with the eight Gatsby Benchmarks, the researched-based indicators of an effective careers programme in schools, adopted by the Department for Education. These include: access to personal guidance; experiences in the workplace; encounters with employers; employees and higher education institutions; and the ability to link the curriculum to careers.   

What are your plans for the Careers Department in the future? 

I am extremely proud of what I have been able to achieve so far with our Career Learning Programme and am hugely grateful for the support and encouragement from colleagues and the Senior Leadership Team, not to mention our amazing alumni community who make an invaluable contribution to our work. Looking to the future, it is my ambition to build on the progress so far, with the longer-term aim of consistently meeting (and evidencing) all eight of the Gatsby Benchmarks. This in turn will enable the school to (hopefully) be accredited with an ‘Investors in Careers’ award for its high-quality careers provision.  

How does the Careers Department support our students?

The Careers Department supports our students in a variety of ways. From helping them develop decision-making skills in Year 9 when they choose their GCSE options, to one-to-one guidance interviews with qualified advisors in Year 11 and Lower Sixth Form, we are committed to meeting the individual needs of every young person in the school. We aim to provide a wide range of activities and interventions, with something to suit everyone, from career-specific workshops and talks from employers and alumni, to interactions with universities and apprenticeship providers. In addition, the provision of the Morrisby Psychometric Assessment Test in Year 10 (or Lower Sixth Form for those who join us then), enables students to gain a greater understanding of their strengths, develop self-awareness and consider their options beyond school.    

What have been your proudest achievements at Eltham College?

It has been really interesting to reflect on this question. On balance, I think the two achievements of which I am most proud are the introduction of a formal work experience programme for Lower Sixth Form, and the launch of our alumni platform, www.Elthamians.Network, which helps to support this programme, alongside other Career Learning initiatives. Now in its second year, the work experience programme continues to provide some exceptional opportunities for our students across a range of sectors, including finance and banking, engineering, healthcare, IT, hospitality, marketing and PR to name but a few. We have recently introduced the Sixth Form to our global alumni community via the Elthamians Network. This in turn provides students with access to the hundreds of OEs who have volunteered their advice and support as they embark on the next stage of their career journey from Eltham College to the world of work.