Bede Academy, in Blyth, has held its first careers and higher education fair aimed at students taking GCSEs and A levels next summer.
Representatives from 12 universities from across the North and Scotland travelled to Blyth for the event, handing out prospectuses and answering the students’ questions about university life and the courses on offer.
A similar number of employers from a range of industries also attended including the Army and Royal Air Force, Catapult Offshore, British Engines, Procter and Gamble and Irwin Mitchell solicitors.
The North East Chamber of Commerce was there to promote apprenticeships and the Prince’s Trust offered self-employment as an alternative option.
Prince’s Trust programme executive Mark Dunn said: “We get a lot of young people leaving school looking to start their own business. We run courses that take them through the process, and we can support them financially and with a business mentor for up to two years.”
For Lindsey Heathcote, a senior scientist with Procter and Gamble, the careers fair was a return to the site of her old school, Ridley High. She went on to complete a chemistry and chemical engineering degree at a Newcastle University and now heads a European team testing household detergents.
“There are a number of different routes into P&G. After A levels students can do a year in industry with us if they want experience before university and we do internships in a range of departments, from marketing to finance to design, as well as in science,” she said.
For sixth form students at Bede the event was a useful way to identify which universities offer courses they are interested in.
One of the more unusual was UCFB, which has campuses at Burnley Football Club, Wembley and the Etihad Stadium in Manchester offering 20 different degrees in sports related subjects.
Andrew Finnemore, 15, of Blyth, said: “I like history and I’ve found out that Durham or Edinburgh would be good for me. I want to start looking now so I have longer to think about it and make up my mind.”
Kim McVey, 17, of Blyth, said: “I’m interested in children’s nursing and some of the universities I thought would offer a course don’t, so that’s been useful to find out. It’s also made me think about the army as another option.”
Joel Greenwell, a graduate ambassador for Durham University, said: “I’ve been very, very impressed by the students at Bede. A lot have asked about music courses, which is nice and a bit different.
“The event has been very well organised. It’s a great way to get students thinking about what they want to do next and they all seem very interested to find out about the options available to them.”
The event was useful for parents too. Lesley McDonnell, mum of Bethany, 16, said: “It’s 30 years since I went to university and it’s changed a lot. Some of it is totally new to me so this is a good opportunity to ask parent related questions.”
Younger students were able to find out more about the academy’s sixth form.
Jake Clark, 15, of Blyth, said: “I think the education in the sixth form here is really good and I’ve been happy here since Year 7, so I’ll be staying on to do A levels. I’m interested in studying dentistry at university so I want to find out about the entry requirements.”
Olivia Hall, 14, of Blyth, is already planning for her future course in forensic anthropology.
“I’ve found out I can do it at Dundee. I’ve wanted to do this since I was eight and I don’t think it’s too early to plan,” she said.
John Hardie, head of careers and ICT at Bede Academy, who organised the event, said: “This is our first careers fair and I’m delighted so many universities and employers supported it. It’s been extremely valuable for students and we also felt it was important to invite parents too so they could find out more to help their children plan their futures.
“While we recommend students visit the universities they are interested, we hope we’ve been able to save them time and cost by presenting a number of options from which they can narrow down their choices, especially Year 12 students who will be applying next year.”