From education to employment

New careers guidance tool for every secondary school in England

Every secondary school in the country has been given access to a free tool to measure the effectiveness of their careers education and guidance against a series of nationally recognised benchmarks to give young people the best start in the world of work.

The Careers & Enterprise Company, in partnership with The Gatsby Foundation, have launched Compass, a new, free online tool for schools to evaluate and monitor improvements in their careers education against eight nationally recognised benchmarks.

The tool is supported by Teach First, the National Association of Head Teachers, the Association of School and College Leaders and the Career Development Institute. It gives schools an immediate read-out on how they compare to the eight benchmarks so they can celebrate successes and focus resources on the areas of their careers programmes which need the most development.

The benchmarks, developed on behalf of Gatsby by Sir John Holman,Emeritus Professor at the University of York and former Headteacher, have been widely accepted across government, schools and education organisations. It follows a 2013 Ofsted report which found that three quarters of schools they visited were not delivering effective careers advice to students.

Sir John makes clear that there is no single ‘magic bullet’ in career guidance. It is about doing a number of things – identified in the benchmarks – consistently and well. Many schools partially reach the standard of the benchmarks in access to career and labour market information or exposure to employers, workplaces and further education for example. In many cases, a simple refocus of resources can transform career guidance provision in a school.

The Compass tool, which is freely available to all secondary schools across the country, will allow schools to review their progress against the benchmarks, allowing them to target their resources towards those activities which will have most impact on improving their careers programmes.

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of the Careers & Enterprise Company, said: “Good careers education and guidance plays a critical role in improving social mobility to give young people the best possible start in the world of work.

“But we know that the standard of careers education varies across the country and that is why we have partnered with the Gatsby Foundation to create the Compass tool and help address this problem.

“Compass will help drive up standards of careers programmes to inspire young people and help them make informed choices.”

Nigel Thomas, Executive Director for Education and Skills at the Gatsby Foundation, said: “Since publication, we have been struck by how many schools and individual teachers were proactively using the eight benchmarks to assess and rethink their career guidance provision. It became clear that a tool, developed around the benchmarks, that could properly assist in evaluation and planning, would be invaluable.

“I am delighted that Gatsby have been able to partner with The Careers & Enterprise Company in developing this tool and hope that we continue to see the positive impact the benchmarks have had on career guidance.”

Sir John Holman, who developed the Good Career Guidance benchmarks, said: “Careers guidance has a very important part to play in social mobility, which is why I am so interested in it. For many young people, their school offers their only chance to access high-quality careers guidance.

“The Compass tool will enable schools to see the areas of their career provision that most need improvement when compared to the eight benchmarks, helping place good career guidance within reach of all young people. Compass has already proved extremely useful for schools and I look forward to seeing its roll-out.”


Notes to editors

Schools can access the tool by following this link

The eight benchmarks are:

  1. A stable careers programme
  2. Learning from career and labour market information
  3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
  4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
  5. Encounters with employers and employees
  6. Experiences of workplaces
  7. Encounters with further and higher education
  8. Personal guidance

Sir John Holman’s report in 2014 on Good Career Guidance, which defined the eight benchmarks, can be read here:

The Careers & Enterprise Company:

The Careers & Enterprise Company is an employer-led organisation, set up to inspire and prepare young people for the fast-changing world of work

The Company’s role is to join the dots in the fragmented landscape of careers and enterprise, supporting programmes that work, filling gaps in provision and ensuring coverage across the country. It follows four principles to do this:

1.         Test, learn and adapt

2.         Build on what works

3.         Work nationally, tailor locally

4.         Enable and convene the best programmes

The Company is led by chief executive Claudia Harris. Its chair is Christine Hodgson, chair of Capgemini and its board includes: Lord David Young, former Enterprise Adviser to the Prime Minister, Steve Holliday, former Chief Executive of National Grid plc, Brian Lightman, former General Secretary of ASCL and Dame Julia Cleverdon, Vice President of Business in the Community and Special Adviser to The Prince’s Charities.

The Gatsby Foundation:

Gatsby is a foundation set up by David Sainsbury to realise his charitable objectives. It focuses support on a limited number of areas:

  • Plant Science Research
  • Neuroscience Research
  • Education (Science and Engineering)
  • Economic Development in Africa
  • Public Policy
  • The Arts

For almost three decades, Gatsby has funded programmes that would support an education system that would not only best serve our economy, but also provide the structure required to support true social mobility.

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