Higher Education and Careers Guidance

At Itchen, we recognise that our students are looking to go onto a variety of career pathways and destinations once they leave us. This means we are highly committed to providing the best support we can in regards to higher education and employability. 

Debbie Finch, our careers and safeguarding officer,  will be able to support students with careers advice. Our SUN Progression Mentor Lucy Prout, our Student Advisor, Sam Doyle, and the Guidance and Support manager, Bridget Jones will all be able to support students with higher education and UCAS guidance. 

On the right hand side of the page, there are links to a variety of helpful resources and websites which will be able to guide you. 

Please make sure to look at our Itchen Job Agency or drop in to Student Services if you are looking for specific careers or higher education guidance. 


The Careers Programme and Gatsby Benchmarks

At Itchen, ‘Next Steps’ planning and the development of employability skills are at the heart of everything we do. We firmly believe that a student with direction and a vision is likely to be more successful than a learner with no clear plans beyond college.

In February 2018, the Department for Education set out new statutory guidance for careers education in schools and colleges. The ‘Gatsby Benchmarks’ are a blueprint for best practice and have shaped the provision at Itchen. The programme is outlined below, so that it is accessible to parents and carers, as well as to students. 

Students are supported to develop a positive mindset through the VESPA programme, which is embedded within the curriculum and the pastoral activities. VESPA is an acronym of the five key components of the programme – Vision, Effort, Systems, Practice and Attitude. Next steps planning is developed through the ‘Vision’ element of the programme, and students are supported to develop ambitious aspirations for their future pathways. The other four components develop good study habits to enable them to achieve in their studies and to realise these ambitions.

The college has positive partnerships established with local FE, HE and employment destinations such as the University of Southampton, Solent University, Carnival, P&O Cruises, the fitness industry and childcare providers. Student progression is facilitated by ensuring that students studying vocational courses undertake units that support direct entry to chosen pathways. For example, the level 3 CACHE Childcare and Health and Social Care courses equip students for direct entry to the industry. Students on Level 3 Travel and Tourism study units on the cruise industry and have the option to undertake ticketing and cabin crew qualifications alongside their programme. A level students have a broad range of enrichment opportunities such as the High Performance Academy and Duke of Edinburgh to support progression to competitive destinations.

Courses are designed to ensure that employability skills, enrichment opportunities and tutorial activities are well embedded within the programme to enable students to develop their personal career and HE ‘vision’ whilst also developing their confidence and awareness of a wide range of work settings.

The large majority of students (around 90%) undertake meaningful work experience placements with local, regional and national employers including companies within the local tourism industry, the National Air Traffic Service, accountancy and legal companies, or work-related activity such as participating in residential training courses with the Royal Marines. Wherever possible, work experience and work-related activities are linked to the student’s courses and to their chosen career paths.


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For level 1 and 2 students, the focus throughout the academic year is very much on preparing students for progression from their current programme of study. This may be progression to a level 3 programme (at Itchen or elsewhere), or to employment or an apprenticeship after just one year at the college. This is facilitated through dedicated level 1 and level 2 tutor groups, and a differentiated tutorial programme.


Other Sources of Careers Guidance

Access Southampton: Access Southampton  provides essential information to help young people make important decisions about their future. We offer impartial and consistent careers guidance for students in Year 9, Year 11 and Year 12 who are in the process of making choices about their futures. Whether you are choosing your GCSE options, finishing school, or leaving college, Access Southampton helps you access all the information you need to make the right decisions for your future.

National Careers Service: This service will help you explore career families and see what qualifications and experience you will need for certain careers.

I Could: This website shows a range of careers with real stories from people in a variety of different careers.

Career Companion: Offers careers guidance and advice for students.

Careers Box: This site is filled with careers related films, information and options. It gives young people a great insight into different careers.

All About Careers: Lets you explore, search and understand more about each career family.

University guidance

Which? University: Offers careers information and advice to help you choose GCSE and A-level subjects and narrow down your higher education options.

UCAS:  Displays the entry requirements for university courses and the specific grades you will need to get in, as well as course details and advice to help you choose the best path for you.

Best Course 4 Me: Gives the option to put in the A Levels you are studying to help you decide which courses to pursue in higher education.