One of the most popular events in the calendar at St Anthony’s is Careers Week.

This is an opportunity for boys to learn about a range of jobs, some of which are well-known, others less so.

St Anthony’s is unique in involving all pupils in Careers Week from Reception up to Year 8. The statutory requirement is that careers provision should be offered to children of secondary school age, but we think it is important to start young!

Down the years, boys have heard from an array of speakers who have been extremely successful in their chosen line of work.

By way of example, the children in reception learned about the law from a practising barrister and judge; Year 1 from a policy advisor for international organisations, and Year 3 from an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Talks in Years 4 to 8 came from lawyers, entrepreneurs, a novelist, an actuary and a psychologist, to name just a few.

An important aim of the week is to broaden pupils’ horizons and deepen their understanding of particular jobs.

It might also serve to clarify certain myths: when I was an early teenager an American television series called LA Law was popular because it promoted legal work as being very glitzy, and not much else!

Ham & High: Richard Berlie makes Careers Week available to all ages at St Anthony's SchoolRichard Berlie makes Careers Week available to all ages at St Anthony's School (Image: St Anthony's Boys School)

Careers Week encourages boys, at a young age, to be open to the range of jobs available and to avoid gender stereotyping.

Social work, nursing and teaching are noble professions for men as well as women; and by way of balance, the boys listened to two highly successful female speakers who had made it big in what might be perceived as men’s jobs. One is the head of Capital Markets, and the other is a senior member of the Bank of England.

Another feature of the Careers Week is the apprenticeship programme, where boys can apply to shadow senior members of the teaching staff.  

Children must submit a formal letter of application outlining their suitability and explaining their reasons for wanting to be headmaster or one of the senior leaders.

There is a fairly rigorous selection process, and successful candidates were allowed to attend a special senior leadership meeting and address their peers at assembly.

Those applicants who were not successful were sent ‘nice’ letters thanking them for their interest. Much emphasis is placed on encouraging resilience with the simple message: if it didn’t work this time, don’t worry it wasn’t meant to be. Something better suited will come along.

I think we can agree this holds true for careers as well as many aspects of life in general.

  • Richard Berlie is the headmaster at St Anthony's School for Boys in Hampstead.