Making Decisions & Gathering Evidence for your Next Steps

Once students understand their transferable skills, explore how to use them to make informed decisions for further education and employment. Teach the importance of gathering evidence of their skills and achievements for college, university, apprenticeship or job applications. Help students plan how to reach their career milestones and what is needed at each stage with our Mountain Climber Worksheet, and discover how to use the ‘STAR Technique’ when answering interview questions.

This lesson plan can be used for students of all ages to learn more about the importance of gathering evidence of their skills to help make plans and take action towards achieving their next steps – choosing what to study at GCSE or after secondary school, considering whether to go to college/university or start an apprenticeship, or simply exploring future career paths and what might be needed to work towards them one day. It’s never to early to start career planning and building a portfolio of your achievements!

Learning Objectives

As you start to think about your next steps during or after school or college, it’s important to know all the facts about your possible choices for study or work. Once you have an idea of where you’re headed (even if it’s just one step at a time), you can find out the entry requirements – the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills, experience, qualifications and knowledge – you’ll need to make that leap. You will then need to start building an evidence portfolio for personal statements, applications forms, CVs and interviews to showcase what you’ve got to offer. Having done your research and prepared everything ready to go, it will then be far easier to create an action plan and make progress towards your desired career goal.

In this lesson plan, students will:

  • Learn how to evaluate your options and make effective decisions
  • Explore how to make an action plan and identify what’s needed
  • Explore feedback and self-awareness to review your progress

Teacher Guide

You can use the PDF lesson plan to deliver a targeted session lasting 30-45 minutes or break it down into smaller chunks to be used during form time, within a careers lesson or embedded within the curriculum in specific subject area.

Our suggested delivery for this lesson would include:

  1. Introduction (5 mins): Start by introducing today’s topic and key learning objectives. You could ask students whether they find making decisions easy or difficult, giving examples of decisions they make daily or have had to make in their lives so far.
  2. Researching your Options (10 mins): Encourage students to start thinking about the importance of understanding what skills, experience and qualifications are required for their future career. Do they know what they will need? How could they find this out? Use the discussion points on slide 2 to test their current level of knowledge on what resources and tools are available to help students gather information about their future study and career options. Raise a flipchart or use the whiteboard to record their answers. Talk through some of the ideas and responses given, using slide 3 as a prompt for any you may have missed. How many of these tools have students used so far?
  3. Skills for your future (5 mins): Explain how the websites mentioned provide an insight into different jobs and careers and what they involve, the qualifications and skills required, and what they can offer (salary and benefits, training and career prospects). Outline what may be included in a job advert or apprenticeship advert and how these are listed in a ‘job description’ and ‘person specification’. (Find an example on the National Careers Service website if you have time).
  4. Knowing your strengths (10 mins): Using slides 5-8, introduce the idea that it can sometimes be difficult for students to recognise what they are good at. Ask students to spend a few minutes thinking of 5 skills they have to offer or who they might ask for feedback to learn what others think they do well. Explain the difference between hard and soft skills and outline the importance of being able to evidence your skills in an interview for college, university, apprenticeships or employment. Talk through the discussion points to raise ideas on how to identify skills gaps and what students could do to work towards building skills in those areas.
  5. Describing your strengths (10 mins): Explain how students can use the ‘STAR’ technique to describe their strengths and achievements by giving examples. Talk through the examples given and ask students to practice in groups or pairs, or write down their own answer. Introduce the idea that employers/interviewers aren’t just interested in your successes, but failures can be great learning opportunities to draw on too. Ask students to consider what they have learnt or skills they may have gained from a range of different experiences, including mistakes.
  6. Summary (5 mins): Recap on what students have learnt about evidencing their skills for the future and ask them each to name one transferable skill that they have strong evidence for.

Follow-Up Activities

After the lesson (or if you have extended the lesson into multiple sessions), you could ask students to complete the following tasks:

  • Review their current achievements and evidence portfolio to see what skills or accomplishments they can evidence so far.
  • Think of ways in which they can build this evidence portfolio by documenting their achievements or asking others for feedback.
  • Consider what evidence may be needed for future jobs, training courses or apprenticeships and make an action plan for how to gather that evidence by the required date.

Games, Activities & Worksheets

The following printable materials can be used during lessons or sent home with students as follow-up activities:

Individual Activity – Mountain Climber Worksheet

Identify key milestones in your career journey – from achieving exam grades to getting work experience, developing skills to getting your driving license! Plot out what you want to achieve and in what order to make sure your career stays on track, as well as planning for any bumps in the road you may encounter!

Group Activity – ‘STAR’ Interview Flashcards

Use our interview question flashcards to answer common interviews questions for colleges, apprenticeships and jobs. Think about how you can find answers from your academic studies or extra-curricular activities and how to describe your skills in a succinct and relevant way using the ‘STAR’ Technique.

Learn about the STAR interview technique to give examples in competency interviews

Bitesize Videos

View our range of 2-3 minute bitesize videos to include in your lesson or send the link to students to watch independently. Hear from local employers in Stockport talking how they have used different skills as part of their everyday job roles.

Daily Reel (15 min video)

If you need to deliver a shorter session to students, try our Daily Reel video on this topic. It encourages students to think about the practical steps to take when they next need to make an informed decision – from researching their options to evaluating alternatives. It explores the need to gather evidence of their skills and achievements throughout their academic studies to showcase on application forms, personal statements, CVs and interviews. It also introduces the STAR Technique to help students learn how to talk about their strengths in a structured way.

In this 15 min summary, you’ll learn:

  • 7 stages to making informed decisions
  • The choices available at 16 and 18 and how to research them
  • The importance of self-reflection and how to ask for feedback
  • How to describe your skills by giving real-world examples of when you’ve used them

Useful Resources on Gathering Evidence for your Next Steps

We’ve produced a range of tools to help teachers, careers advisors and students understand the importance of gathering evidence of skills and achievements to help you on the path to success with your future study or work plans. Use these articles and resources to prepare for your lesson or to signpost students to help them expand their knowledge and make informed decisions about upcoming job choices, available training pathways and future career options.

Gathering Evidence of your Skills and Achievements

Whatever you decide comes next after school or college, you’ll need to stand-out in a competitive landscape. The key to this is gathering a strong portfolio of evidence and being armed with great examples that are relevant to your course or employment ambitions. Find out how to identify gaps in your skills and achievements, what evidence might be required and how to take action now that will undoubtedly pay off later.

Identifying your skills and showcasing them with ‘STAR’ Technique

Find it hard to ‘sell’ yourself? Not really sure what you’re good at or how to describe it? Recognising your strengths and being able to talk confidently about them doesn’t come easily for most people. It’s a tactic you’ll need to learn to articulate your skills and experience.  The ‘STAR’ Technique can help you explain more about what you did, your actions and the end result.