Languages, retail, PR in the film industry, education… Head of Programmes Rebecca Scott’s career hardly went in a straight line! It’s that experience which makes her so passionate about driving better outcomes for young people through targeted, personalised guidance and support at the post-16 transition.
"I was the first person in my family to go to university. Like everyone my age at that time, I wandered off to university with no plan whatsoever. All my decisions were made without much thought or guidance. For example, having grown up in Edinburgh I'm very much a city person and should have gone to a city university instead of a campus. I studied Interpreting and Translating, which wasn’t really what I wanted to do.
Making uninformed decisions
Even before then, I chose the wrong subjects and closed off options without realising it. For example, when I applied to university I learned you need to be studying specific sets of subjects for certain university courses: if you were going to study science, you had to have all science A-Levels. But I had taken a wide range of subjects at GCSE and A-Level. Only when it was too late did I realise how easy it is to close off options for yourself. I’ve often looked back and wondered, what if I’d made more informed choices?
“I’ve often looked back and wondered - what if I’d made more informed choices?”
It was the same after university: I didn’t have a plan and drifted for a long while, not really knowing what to do. I worked in retail and part time jobs, and tried different careers. At one point I decided to go and work in film PR because a friend recommended it!
Essentially, my further and higher education, and early career decisions were made without any structured thought process, without knowing myself, without an understanding of the range of job options available. That is why I care so deeply about my work in education now: because I made all the mistakes.
Starting a career in Education
I had always been quite interested in the charity and education sector, but didn’t really explore that until I applied for a job at Teach First in the Access Team, piloting an employability programme. I was really drawn to it precisely because of my formative experiences as a young adult. It was this role that started my career in education seven years ago.
“That is why I care so deeply about my work in education now: because I made all the mistakes.”
While at Teach First I worked in the programmes team, but I also spent time in fundraising and supporter engagement for a little while. I got to see different sides of the organisation, and it was a good opportunity to understand what areas I was more drawn to. It's good to move around a little bit in those early years just to get a sense of who you are, what you want to do.
Then I moved into the ARK Academy chain as Network Lead for Careers and Enrichment, which really gave me that inside view into how schools are run, how they operate. I trained the careers leaders across the ARK network to design and deliver their careers programmes.
On the neglected ‘middle’ and promoting social mobility
What really drew me to the role at Future Frontiers was recognising the neglected ‘middle’ achievers. At the higher achieving end, students are supported to get into university. For those really struggling academically or who have additional support needs, there are interventions available to prevent students falling into the ‘NEET’ category of Not in Education Employment or Training after age 16.
But across the sector there are fewer opportunities to bolster the outcomes for this middle group of capable but lower-attaining students (over-represented by those from lower socio-economic backgrounds) for whom a direct line to university is not necessarily appropriate, but who still need assistance in developing post-16 plans that open meaningful career doors for them.
I don't think we can significantly improve social mobility or really change the direction of travel for young people unless we focus on this group of students. And Future Frontiers’ programme does exactly that, which is why I love my job.
My role as Head of Programmes
As Head of Programmes at Future Frontiers my role falls into three main areas:
Overseeing the design and development of the two year programme (for Years 10 & 11) that we are developing under our new 5-year strategy, Building Lasting Impact.
Overseeing the delivery of the programme
Overseeing our monitoring, evaluation and research team.
I joined the organisation at a time when Future Frontiers was defining its strategic focus and direction for the next five years, which is really exciting. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to play a part in shaping the organisational vision and defining what outcomes we’re aiming for.
I’ve also loved growing the team. It’s exciting to bring on board new people with a range of different experiences and to bring new voices to the table. We’ve got a fantastic, skilled and diverse team that is simply a joy to work with. Looking forward, the thing that excites me most is the evaluation plan for the next five years.
“Looking forward, the thing that excites me most is the evaluation plan for the next five years.”
I really believe the organisation’s commitment to evaluating the impact of our work makes us stand out. It is important to understand what a programme’s immediate impact and benefit to students is. But the aim is fundamentally to change a young person’s trajectory for the better, and that can only be understood over the longer term. That is why one of our three strategic impact goals over the next five years is:
“Achieve transformational impact: We will rigorously evaluate our programme and track the destinations of young people. We will understand the extent to which our programme leads to significant increases in our key post-16 destination outcomes, building confidence that our programme achieves statistically significant meaningful long-term impact for young people.”
The fact that Future Frontiers is investing significantly in this longer term monitoring and evaluation of our work is really exciting!
Are you interested in joining our team to help play a critical role in delivering a lasting impact on the pupils we support? Check out the roles we have available here