Part of The Prospects Group, Prospects Education Resources provide educational materials to schools, colleges and universities throughout the UK, including a wide range of careers resources, and are a Working Adviser Sponsor Partner. We spoke to Jonathan Lightfoot, Education Resources Unit Manager, about the bespoke service that they can offer careers advisers and teachers, the challenges they face and their plans for the future.
Firstly Jonathan, can you tell us a bit about Prospects Education Resources and your role within it?
I have been with Prospects for 11 years and I’m proud to say that I have been the Unit Manager here for the last 3 years. I manage a small but experienced, friendly and helpful team who are committed to providing impartial advice to careers teachers and professionals nationally and internationally. As Unit Manager I am responsible for finding or commissioning new and exciting resources as well as keeping in close contact with practitioners and what’s happening in the world of careers.
We’re a busy office that is unique in that it’s a one-stop shop for all your Careers Education and PSHE resource needs. We deal with both major and smaller suppliers and publishers so that we can bring customers an extensive range that covers all ages, learning styles and abilities with products that include guides, workbooks, online tools, posters, games and more.
What are some of the most popular Careers resources with Schools and Colleges?
We find that our careers directories, student workbooks, ready-made resource packs, university guides, job hunting books and posters are all very popular.
From a resources point of view, what are the main challenges facing a teacher or coordinator who takes on a Careers role in a School?
We understand that time and budgets are limited but we’re confident that if careers teachers and coordinators are aware of the products that we offer, then we can help then achieve a well-rounded and engaging programme to suit their students. For those that are new to the role within careers, we have ready-made lesson plans and essential resource packs to get them started and we’re always just on the end of the phone for that personal customer service.
What would surprise people about the product range you offer?
Although you may expect the trend to be primarily for online tools (of which we have a great selection) we are consistently finding that schools are looking to utilise their small budgets on paper resources more than ever, with an emphasis on ready-made lesson plans and student workbooks.
Our annual new Prospects Catalogue has just been sent out and this highlights our new and most popular resources, but this is only a snapshot of what we have on offer and customers can view over 2000 products on our website. We print 12,000 catalogues and send these to as many named careers representatives as possible within Secondary Schools, Sixth Forms and FE Colleges and we continue to support these practitioners with additional mini catalogues throughout the year. These include one exclusively for Sixth Forms, a supplement to the main catalogue in the Autumn, together with specialist brochures for Software, PSHE and SEND.
How does the school academic year impact on your operations?
Our aim is to let customers know of the relevant resources that they need ahead of the time they are needed, for example, National Career Guidance Week and UCAS applications time. Things do get a bit quieter on the phone lines over the summer holiday period, at which point we tend to postpone parcel deliveries to those establishments that are not open, otherwise it’s business as usual.
How are Prospects changing the way they offer Careers and Education Resources to Schools?
We like to think that we are pro-active in developing and sourcing resources that customers will want and need and we are constantly updating our databases to try to ensure that we have the most up-to-date key contacts within schools so that we can ensure that the relevant members of staff are kept informed on what we have to offer. We have always prided ourselves in offering impartial advice on product selection and great customer service anyway and this, along with a quick turnaround on deliveries, hopefully means that our customers come back to us again and again.
What exciting things have you got planned for the next 12 months?
We are constantly updating our portfolio but our annual Steps, Which Way Now, and It’s Your Choice workbooks, which come out every September, are very well received. We will also be adding to our popular Working in Series of books. Let us know your contact details and we can keep you informed of the latest publications and resources.
Finally, and In your view, what makes a good Careers Education resource?
They need to be of a high standard and represent value for money, but they also have to be suitable for purpose and be easy to use for both experienced and new careers staff alike.
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