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Our Approach

#815 Joint Careers Event – Year 11 Options

Anne Bailey, CEO, Form the Future CIC

What did we do?

Form the Future were commissioned by the Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA) to work with the Careers Facilitator (CF) Network to re-produce an event Form the Future first delivered with NOA in 2019.  

This event was designed to support year 11 students who were considering their post-GCSE options, whether that was sixth-form, college, or training in other environments, including apprenticeships. Some already had ideas, perhaps based on where siblings had gone or where their friends wanted to go but others had not started to think about it. Either way, it’s important to for young people to think about all their options as they may not be fully aware of what’s possible and what opportunities are available to them.  

Very well organised, lovely location managed to gather a lot of information in one go, fantastic! 

Exceeded our expectations came away feeling more informed of options and positive 

All the sixth forms were there who we wanted to speak to. 

It was brilliant being able to see all the 6th form providers in one place. It showed us new options we hadn’t considered or knew about. As a result, we are going to East Norfolk’s open evening tonight! 

It helps narrow down the possible options. 

Having everyone in one place makes it easier to compare but there weren’t subject specialists to talk to which you get at the individual schools’ open days. 

It helped us to decide which sixth forms we will now go visit, for their Open evening to find out more. 

I found out about places I didn’t know existed

Visitor feedback

Good to have all providers in one place, and a chance for us all to see what other providers are offering for 2022. 

It is great to have an event where lots of different schools are invited, rather than doing an individual careers event at each school.

The sixth form and college feedback

I think it was good for the students to be able to go out and present themselves to a number of employers outside of their normal school environment. It was also good to see sixth form colleges present. I feel that this gave the students a good opportunity to speak to employers and further education providers. 

Lots of other career’s events are more focused on further education but this gave equal space for employers and apprenticeship providers to demonstrate what they can offer

Employer feedback

Summary of impact

The overall aim was to enable students to make informed decisions about their next steps in education or into employment. The event brought together post-16 education providers to one central location so that students could learn about all their options. It Included employers who offered apprenticeships or other training providers so that jobs with training could be considered as well. The event was open to parents or guardians so they could get their questions answered and play a useful role in guiding their young people.  

 This event was another success. The sixth forms and colleges appreciated an event that allowed them to meet students from so many schools, avoiding the need to attend so many schools career fairs. We achieved our targets for attendance (5 of the 8 slots were sold out), we had excellent participation levels from the providers, the venue worked well and there was a distinct buzz throughout the day. Anecdotal reports from students, teachers, parents, and exhibitors were mainly positive (see quote section). 

 Reducing the volume of attendees led to an improved experience and more in-depth conversations on each stall, rather than the scramble for freebies that exhibitions like this can often result in. Nonetheless, we achieved our target with over 700 visitors. 

We had 709 visitors from 17 different schools, and 40 different exhibitors. Feedback included: Did the event help you find out more about options for next step after GCSEs? Yes – 84% Maybe – 11% No – 5%. 

 There are always areas for improvement, but we would recommend that this event continue as a regular part of the post 16 transition process. 

Steps taken

We ran this event for the first time in 2019 but couldn’t run in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, the first step was to check if there was interest in re-running the event and understanding whether we could run it safely and responsibly. We got approval to go ahead, provided we adapted to make it Covid safe. This meant lower numbers spread out over a larger area. Luckily, we were able to take two floors at Norwich City Football Club’s ground, a huge space, ideally situated in the city centre with free parking. We also reduced the time slots so that we could allow more people to attend, even with the reduced numbers. 

Post-16 providers were invited to exhibit, and schools invited to attend with their year 11s. Where schools couldn’t commit to bringing a full year group, mailings were sent to parents/guardians, and they were encouraged to attend in the afterschool time slots. We had 40 stalls, half of which were post-16 schools and colleges and the rest including HE and employers offering apprenticeships, including Lotus Cars, the RAF, EDF Energy, the NHS, Marsh, and many more. 

What we did to deliver the event: 

  • Confirmed the focus of the event with the Careers Facilitator (CF) Network at the final workshop of the school year in July. 
  • Agreed date and timings – Running through both the school day and into the afternoon/early evening gave the option of attending with a school group or independently or with parents. 
  • Drafted a project plan and sample materials for the CF Network to review. 
  • We used the first CF Network meeting in September to brief them on progress over the summer, get input and to allocate roles and responsibilities. Capacity to support the event was extremely limited, less even than when we ran the event previously, but school representatives did promote the event throughout their schools. 
  • Created Eventbrite pages for registration of exhibitors and visitors. 
  • Developed marketing materials including press release, posters, and social media graphics. 
  • Recruited exhibitors – we contacted previous exhibitors and some of our own employer contacts, and shared materials with the Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA) and New Anglia LEP colleagues to promote to their contacts. In addition to education providers, employers who offer apprenticeship programmes were also invited. 
  • Promoted the event to schools, students, and parents. An invitation letters was distributed to schools. If schools didn’t intend to bring a group of students, they were encouraged to share a prepared letter with parents. 
  • Ongoing promotion, mainly via social media, continued to keep registrations climbing.  
  • Monitored visitor registrations and exhibitor sign ups.  
  • Adjusted the booking system to reduce capacity but increase the volume of slots. 
  • Site visit to agree layout and facilities, arrange refreshments, Covid precautions. 
  • Prepared briefing pack for exhibitors and distributed via Eventbrite. This requested that they restrict the numbers attending (which many were able to do.) 
  • Prepared briefing pack for schools to share with students, and shared tips via Eventbrite. 
  • Wrote to visitors in advance with tips on how to get the best out of the event. 
  • Allocated stands to exhibitors.  
  • Prepared a flier for visitors listing all exhibitors, plus a slide to display on the large screens in the halls. 
  • Prepared evaluation forms for exhibitors and exhibitors. 
  • Prepared briefing notes for helpers. 
  • Prepared registration desk with schedule of visitors expected, and a guide to the exhibitors. 
  • Signed in visitors, looked after exhibitors. Oversaw catering and provided supplementary provisions. 
  • Cleaned up. 
  • Sent feedback forms to all exhibitors and attendees. 
  • Produced summary report. 
  • Debriefed with CF Network to reflect on what worked and capture lessons learned. 
  • Project management and liaison with client throughout. 

What would we do differently

As previously mentioned, we had to adapt this event to make it Covid safe. Asking Exhibitors to keep attendance to a minimum meant that some colleges were unable to bring as many subject experts or current students as they would have liked to so hopefully this can change in the future. 

There were some complaints from people who arrived to find exhibitors already packed up or leaving. Another observation, which is important to acknowledge, is that referring in some of our communications and feedback forms to GCSEs excludes those students who won’t be sitting or achieving GCSEs. 

Key wisdom:  

  • Plan the event early: We held our event in October in time for students to figure out which open days they wanted to attend, and we needed to start the planning the previous term as it takes a few months to get everything sorted.  
  • Make sure students know the purpose of the event and can think about who they want to speak to before they arrive: We produced fliers with all the exhibitors listed, and large displays at the event so that they could find their way around. 
  • Provide plenty of refreshments to your exhibitors: We had a delicious lunch and unlimited tea and coffee and that was very much appreciated by the exhibitors. 
  • We couldn’t do it this year due to Covid and restrictions on numbers but encourage exhibitors to bring current students or apprentices as they’re always a great source of inspiration to students, and they gain a lot from taking part, too. 


The event was funded by the NOA. Time tracked against the project by Form the Future staff came to 81 hours. At our agreed rate of £350/day this equates to £3,780. Other costs incurred included travel, £153.20 and printing fliers, £98.26. The total cost was: £4031.46.

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Being a Careers Facilitator - The Wherry School

The network meets regularly to discuss, inform and promote local labour market information, as well as promoting opportunities and creating events that are beneficial to a wider network of schools.

Character Day - Jane Austen College

An example of an event that has come out of the Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA) Careers Facilitator Network project is our most recent Character Day. Character days at Jane Austen are a chance for students to be off timetable.


Anne Bailey, CEO

Form The Future CIC, 47 Norfolk Street