The Gatsby Benchmarks and the Careers Strategy

The Government is under increasing pressure to publish its long awaited  careers strategy. It has promised to release the  strategy ’ this autumn’. The ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’  is upon us.The clock ticking.  Pressure is also mounting for it to have a more inclusive approach to the so-called Gatsby benchmarks ,produced by Sir John Holman which define the key concurrent  activities required to deliver high quality Careers Guidance. Ministers and the Careers and Enterprise Company consistently champion just two of the eight benchmarks, covering work experience and engagement with employers,   largely to the exclusion of the other six . It is widely accepted that the benchmarks are interdependent and mutually supportive, so that if just some activities take place, then the impact on outcomes will be diminished. The current narrative around careers guidance, particularly articulated   by Ministers, focuses almost entirely on the activities of the Careers and Enterprise company, and largely ignores what is happening through the National Careers Service and through other professional careers guidance  providers,  partnerships and hubs where there are many examples of outstanding practice often  confirmed  by Ofsted inspections. We should be acknowledging and   building on this best practice

Recently, the Minister Robert Goodwill in response to a PQ from Gordon Marsden, Labours Skills and HE spokesman said’  ‘The careers strategy will include proposals to improve the quality and coverage of careers advice in schools. These proposals will be informed by evidence regarding what works. The Gatsby benchmarks are based on the best national and international research and define excellence in careers provision. A two year pilot of the Gatsby benchmarks in the North East has demonstrated that significant improvements can be made.’ These improvements relied on an inclusive approach to the Benchmarks.

As the Minister stated Schools and colleges within the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) were selected in 2015 to pilot a new national careers guidance framework. This was  designed to encourage the next generation of young people to make fully informed decisions and to begin to equip them with the skills employers need. The pilot involved two years of intensive careers activity with schools, colleges and local businesses and is  including   four years of data collection, gathered and analysed by an independent evaluator, who will report on the impact of the national pilot in terms of student outcomes and progression into higher education, apprenticeships or employment. Ryan Gibson, National Facilitator for the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks Pilot at the NE LEP, said in June this year :

“The programme has been transformational in terms of improving students’ access to careers education and helping them develop the skills employers need. The initiatives the North East LEP has developed as part of the Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot have improved collaboration between the business community and the education sector, as well as provide teaching staff with workplace training and personal development opportunities to better equip them with the knowledge and skills to provide effective careers advice to students.”

Its pretty obvious that the government needs to focus on what works on the ground, learn from it , build on it and that the  resources that are available  should be directed to this end. At the moment this just isnt happening, to the frustration  of professional  guidance practitioners and to the cost of  people, including  many of our youngest and  most disadvantaged students  , seeking to make informed  career choices.Hopefully,  the Ministers reply , referencing the benchmarks  and evidence of what works represents  a nuanced  shift in policy. But dont hold your breath!

Eight Gatsby Benchmarks

A stable careers programme

Learning from career and labour market information

Addressing the needs of each pupil

Linking curriculum learning to careers

Encounters with employers and employees

Experiences of workplaces

Encounters with further and higher education

Personal guidance

Benchmarks

 

See also  John Yarhams article in FE News October 2017

FE News

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3 thoughts on “The Gatsby Benchmarks and the Careers Strategy

  1. The elephant in the room is the cost.

    The Gatsby pilot utilised a huge network of people both paid and unpaid as well as resources and most important of all time, both curriculum and teacher time. For this to be replicated across the country this would need financial investment.

  2. Yep- Cost. Those schools would have welcomed this huge input as it was a Government initiative and fully funded. My guess is it would have proved that provision must include all aspects of the Gatsby 8, as young people are all different and will respond to different inputs and timing. The orginal report costed this at £40K to £50K per annum.

    • Interestingly the CEC seems to have no problem as a quango in accessing taxpayers funds as an enabler rather than provider..

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