Futures: Career guidance and support at Norwich High School for Girls

Posted on 12th December 2023

Lauren Mickleburgh talks through the approach to careers guidance and support at Norwich High School for Girls.

Lauren Mickleburgh is Head of Careers at Norwich High School for Girls. She works closely with Director of Sixth Form, Hazel Packer, and Deputy Head of Prep School, Ali Brand, to deliver the careers provision to students in Years 6-13.

Here, Lauren talks through the approach to careers guidance and support at Norwich High School for Girls.

Up to date, impartial and broad advice

Our aim is to provide up to date, impartial and broad advice to all students for their next steps, whatever they are – acknowledging that the next steps for a Year 7 student will be very different to the next steps for a student in Year 11.

Our careers programme

We offer a broad and unique programme of careers guidance, events and support in line with the government recommended Gatsby Benchmarks. Each year group has a careers week every half term, with activities and opportunities during these weeks uploaded as an interaction on each student’s Unifrog account. You can view the full year group breakdown of our careers curriculum and opportunities with the related Gatsby Benchmark compliance in our programme overview here.

“We put a lot of energy and value into careers and helping students be future ready when they leave Norwich High. The success of our careers programme is enhanced thanks to the consistent delivery.”

Lauren Mickleburgh, Head of Careers at Norwich High School for Girls

Consistent approach

Having myself as a dedicated Head of Careers gives students a central point of contact and I am able to support them throughout their school journey as their interests and skills progress. We successfully use tutor time to deliver the programme and the scheme of work covers so much with different year groups. From helping Year 10’s prepare for their work experience with CVs and applications, to covering financial budgeting for university and student loan applications with the Year 11s and Sixth Formers. I ensure the required content is delivered to all students, and that resources are always uploaded and accessible allowing students to reflect on the content in their own time.

Utilising the Unifrog platform

We use Unifrog, a comprehensive and user-friendly ‘universal destinations’ careers platform which helps students make the best choices and helps teachers to manage student’s progression.

Unifrog competencies

Unifrog identifies 12 competencies, or employability skills, which they feel underpin every soft skill potential employers and further education institutions look for from students. They include aiming high, creativity, leadership, problem solving, teamwork and independence. This model helps our students have an understanding of their innate strengths as well as those soft skills they will need to work on. These conversations about transferable skills are vital in helping lay the foundations of employability alongside our coaching to help students understand the modern job market. The Unifrog competencies also link in really well with our ACTIVE approach to learning in the Senior School.

Careers in the Prep School

For the first time this academic year, we have also introduced Unifrog into Year 6 and it links with our Qualities Girls approach to learning in the Prep School. Talking about employability skills early helps students understand the tools they will need in their future studies and future careers and can be done in an age appropriate way; for example talking about being a good listener, being reliable, being adaptable or being a good friend.

Unifrog careers quizzes

We look at the careers search in different ways – via the traditional route, through a love or passion for a particular subject, through a genuine interest and by students taking quizzes on Unifrog. Again, this is age appropriate, so Year 7 students take an interest quiz; in Year 9 we set a personality quiz, and in Year 10 there is a skills quiz. In Year 11 and the Sixth Form, the questions are based more on different work environments. By answering questions using smiley faces, students are directed to the Unifrog careers library and this helps them look at options in a different way.

Based on a student’s responses, their Unifrog profile will list the skills required for each career option, what the day to day role includes, careers pathways and progressions. The platform then links to university pages so older students can view which institutions offer courses relevant to the career they are considering along with entry requirements.

1:1 careers guidance interviews

A cornerstone of our careers programme is offering all students a 1:1 careers guidance interview with our impartial external expert, Liz Edwards, both in Year 11 and at the end of Year 12. Careers Advisor Liz works with each student to put together an action plan with points for direction, ideas and next steps. As well as these two 1:1 career guidance sessions, we have also now implemented work experience placements in Year 12 as well as Year 10. These can be invaluable in helping students define their thoughts as well as building experience and making connections in their field of choice.

External speakers

We invite a number of speakers to present to students as an important part of each careers week; from alumnae to those connected with the school through family links or as former parents or staff, as well as members of the local business and higher education community. Each Head of Department works to ensure students hear from alumnae and people passionate around their subject. Having contact with those in employment is a vital additional element which brings to life the possibilities for the students and allows them to ask their questions directly.

This approach is embedded into our Sixth Form through the Six+ programme as well as GDST-wide initiatives like Oxbridge on Track. We have a number of students exploring Oxbridge pathways this year, and in the Class of 2023, 88% of students achieved their first choice university places which is a fantastic testament to our approach to planning for further education.

A gender neutral approach

As a girls first school, we have a gender neutral approach to all possible career pathways which benefits the students as they see no gender related barriers to what they can go on to achieve. In particular, lots of our students are interested in STEM careers, with a high uptake of STEM subjects at all levels – science, maths, engineering and technology. The STEM Departments work hard to encourage students to explore STEM careers, arranging for external speakers, vocational trips and encouraging enthusiasm for their subjects. We are now building on this work alongside colleagues in other departments, including Maths and English, to ensure careers are promoted through the delivered curriculum to supplement the focused work I am delivering.


Not everyone is a university student and not all students want to go to university or follow a more ‘traditional’ route for students leaving independent school and entering further education. It is important that our careers approach gives students access to information about a range of different pathways.

Many students want to go straight into the world of work after Year 13 where they can use practical skills, be part of a company, work their way up and be paid for it. We have had great success over the past few years placing students in exciting and competitive apprenticeship programmes including with Rolls Royce and local chartered accountancy firm M+A Partners. We ran our Apprenticeship Carousel event in September and are linked with the Apprenticeships Norfolk Pathways to Work, who are coming into school in February to talk to Year 10 and 11.

“I absolutely love helping students really consider where they could go after Norwich High. We are aspirational for every student.”

Lauren Mickleburgh, Head of Careers at Norwich High School for Girls