Case Study: Using Ponder and the Career Clusters to address the Gatsby Eight

Study Work Grow Case Study with Donna Mason from Roding Valley
Careers Advisor Donna Mason was one of the first in the UK to see the value in using the new CDI-aligned Ponder Program careers framework in her careers program at school. She shares her wonderful feedback with us below.

School: Roding Valley High School [England, State School]

Educator: Donna Mason, Careers Advisor & Careers Leader

Context: 1,500 Students from Year 7 to Sixth Form, with students choosing a variety of university, trades, and direct employment pathways

“It’s exactly what I wanted”

Study Work Grow member Donna Mason came across the Ponder Program and the Career Clusters through a referral from a local colleague of hers in 2023.

She had been looking for a program like Ponder that had videos and was aligned to the CDI framework for a long time and when she’d heard how great it was, she had to try it. After looking at the program with the Tutors on her education team at school she decided to implement it across Years 7 to 10, with short weekly careers lessons delivered in Tutor Time.

“I actually like how it’s got the short video, and it starts the class discussion, because I think that’s what it’s all about”.

By adding the (40) lessons to her own system of using Google Sheets, her Tutors had a set program to follow and all of the students were learning the same thing each week for consistency.

Helping Roding Valley meet the UK Gatsby Benchmarks

Donna already had a stable careers program in place (Benchmark 1), but she was happy that the Ponder Program contributed to that due to its year-long, comprehensive framework.

With references to different careers and career scenarios in most lessons, it helps address Benchmark 2. Donna remarked that she found Ponder was so simple to follow [with guidance in how to deliver it], it helped her Tutors to address the needs of pupils in each class for Benchmark 3.  

And because of the weekly nature of the lessons in general classes, for Donna, it became her Careers-in-the-Curriculum lesson, easily solving Benchmark 4.

 “It’s [Ponder] just my careers-in-the-curriculum lesson each week, isn’t it!”

Lastly, Donna said that it provides a weekly opportunity to talk about careers and pathways, reminding students where they could find her at school, addressing Benchmark 8 (Personal Guidance).

The Career Clusters

Just like many secondary schools in the UK, Donna has been using an existing program that quizzes students and then gives them a list of 10 jobs, which she felt wasn’t always helpful.

“They’ve actually found it really interesting [the students regarding the Career Clusters]… …rather than “going on a quiz and you get a list of 10 jobs”, because for years and years we’ve used a program that did just that, but I think the Clusters make more sense of everything and the students really like it”  

The Career Clusters results gave students something they could easily make sense of, which in many schools becomes a starting point for engaging career conversations – as students have a good place to start from when they know their cluster(s).

Key Takeaways:

  • Donna liked how Ponder is fully flexible and not ‘set in stone’ so that it fits around how she wants to run her careers program (and the other events that pop-up during the school year)
  • Ponder is being used at Roding Valley in Tutor Time across Years 7-10 by Tutors, freeing Donna up to focus more on personal guidance while also improving career education as a whole across her school
  • Four (4) year levels are getting consistent lessons throughout the school year, helping the school to meet half of their Gatsby Benchmarks
  • The world-famous ‘Bluey’ cartoon is Australian and loved by entire cohort as they grew up. Donna felt that despite some terminology being slightly different, it was otherwise fine in her setting even though Ponder is Australian designed (using the Australian Blueprint for Career Development & CDI Framework)
  • The Career Clusters worked well for her students, giving them a great place to start Career Conversations from rather than a list of ’10 jobs’.
  • Donna will be reviewing the results of Ponder in late Summer Term (2024) but was positive that it was making a difference in her Careers Program.

We congratulate Donna on being one of the first schools in the UK to implement the Ponder Program (and see the benefits of doing so this year). We thank her for her enthusiasm and time in putting this case study together for the benefit of other UK colleagues.

To find out more about accessing and using these resources in your Careers Program, click here.  

More To Explore

Use Case: Integrate Ponder into assembly

Deliver over 6 hours of Career Education to every student each year simply by including the Ponder Program for 10 minutes in your Weekly Assembly; an increase of at least 4 hours over the amount a normal school will deliver to each student

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