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Girls can do anything and boys can ask for help

Date: 16 Mar

Students across Cornwall with a range of additional learning needs and disabilities attended an event recently designed to inspire them about their future careers and to help break down barriers of routes into employment.

Students at Sir James Smith’s Community School took part in an International Woman’s Day event designed to challenge stereotypical views, raise aspirations and develop the students’ self-confidence and resilience.

The event took place Monday 9 March and was organised by Jo Ledger, with support from David Sellars (Enterprise Coordinator at The Careers Hub CIoS) and Michelle Poynter (Business owner and School Enterprise Adviser).

Jo Ledger, Careers Leader at Sir James Smith’s School, said: “We decided again this year to organise a careers event with a difference. The day was arranged to coincide with International Woman’s Day, but of course the boys were not left out as we focussed on boys/men’s mental health too. My message to the students was: girls can do anything and boys can ask for help.

“With both of these important subjects in mind we mixed the day, starting with two presentations. The first was delivered by Miss Jones about the history of International Women’s Day and the second by a male mental health nurse from Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and a male mental health first aider from Saputo Dairy, encouraging students to ask for help when needed.

“For the next two hours the students completed speed networking with employers and learnt basic first aid. We couldn’t go through the day without some physical exercise to burn off some energy, so Jo Marshall from Jo’s Fitness Studio then led a lesson of fun and games to build resilience and help wake up those endorphins!

“The last session enabled students to learn more about apprenticeships, further education, higher education and starting your own business.

The session about starting your own business particularly stood out and was led by two female business owners, Michelle Poynter and Jo Marshall, who explained their own career pathways and shared advice. Students asked lots of fantastic questions about costs, marketing and growth – one student even got to share their T-shirt designs with Michelle, who owns a clothing business.


Overall the day was a huge success and the school hopes to run it every year. David Sellars, Enterprise Coordinator at The Careers Hub CIoS, said: “A key objective of this event was to give Year 9 students the opportunity to meet people who have a range of different jobs to widen their understanding about the world of work.

“Research shows that students who have regular contact with employers and employees make more informed choices about their own future, tend to have more confidence and have higher aspirations.

“I would therefore like to thank all of the employers and organisations who were involved in the day.

Employers and organisations who willingly donated their time were: Bott Ltd, Corserv, Saputo Dairy UK, Kier Construction, Network Rail, Plymouth Medical School, Bude ACF, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Mish Retail Ltd, Jo’s Fitness Studio, Cornwall College and Falmouth University.

In recent years, the number of employer encounters and workplace experiences that young people receive has increased significantly, with Cornwall and The Isle of Scilly currently ranked first nationally for student workplace experiences.

There is however more to do in order to ensure all young people are provided with encounters such as this. If you are a business and would like to get involved with supporting schools, please visit