From education to employment

Gatsby Benchmark 1: Schools must set out on their websites how providers can request access to speak to pupils about FE courses and apprenticeships

Careers guidance and access for education and training providers – Statutory guidance for schools on providing careers guidance.

The Government’s careers strategy, published on 4 December 2017, sets out a long term plan to build a world class careers system that will help young people and adults choose the career that is right for them. This statutory guidance has been updated to expand on the aim set out in the strategy to make sure that all young people in secondary school get a programme of advice and guidance that is stable, structured and delivered by individuals with the right skills and experience.

To achieve this aim, the careers strategy sets out that every school and academy providing secondary education should use the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Benchmarks to develop and improve their careers provision. This statutory guidance has been restructured around the Benchmarks with information on what schools need to do to meet each one. The Gatsby Benchmarks are not a statutory framework but by adopting them, schools can be confident that they are fulfilling their legal duties: the existing duties to secure independent careers guidance and provide opportunities to a range of providers to inform pupils about technical education qualifications or apprenticeships and the new duty to publish information about the careers programme on the school website. 

The careers programme should be published on the school’s website in a way that enables pupils, parents, teachers and employers to access and understand it.

The Benchmarks go further by defining all of the elements of an excellent careers programme, based on the best national and international research. Government recognises that the work needed to meet all eight Benchmarks will vary for individual schools. Government’s expectation is that schools begin to work towards the Benchmarks now and meet them by the end of 2020. Compass is an online self-evaluation tool6 for schools to use to assess how their careers support compares against the Gatsby Benchmarks and the national average. Schools should baseline themselves using this tool, consider the opportunities to improve their careers programme based on their confidential results, and track their progress against the Benchmarks over time.

The careers strategy explains that both co-ordinated external support and an appropriately skilled and experienced leader in school are important to help schools meet the Benchmarks. This statutory guidance explains what support will be made available to schools between now and 2020.

The Careers & Enterprise Company will provide external support to schools. The Company supports and coordinates collaboration between employers, schools, colleges, Local Enterprise Partnerships and careers and enterprise organisations to create high impact careers and enterprise support to young people (aged 11- 18). The Company’s initial focus has been on employer engagement, based on evidence about the importance of giving young people more opportunities to connect with employers of all sizes, and from all sectors. These encounters will inspire pupils and allow them to learn about what work is like, or what it takes to be successful in the workforce. The careers strategy confirmed that The Careers & Enterprise Company will take on a more ambitious role building on their progress to date, offering all schools an Enterprise Adviser7 by 2020. The Careers & Enterprise Company will also offer further support across all of the Gatsby Benchmarks. This will include the development of new resources, support for Careers Leaders and establishing Careers Hubs.

The careers strategy sets out that that every school needs a Careers Leader who has the skills and commitment, and backing from their senior leadership team, to deliver the careers programme across all eight Gatsby Benchmarks. Every school is expected to name this Careers Leader and publish contact details on their website from September 2018. More information about the role and responsibilities of the Careers Leader is set out in a new guide, ‘Understanding the role of the Careers Leader’.

The way in which careers guidance will continue to be considered during Ofsted inspection is set out in Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework9 and School Inspection Handbook. A successful careers guidance programme will also be reflected in higher numbers of pupils progressing to positive destinations such as apprenticeships, technical routes, school sixth forms, sixth form colleges, further education colleges, universities or employment. Destination measures provide clear and comparable information on the success of schools in helping all of their pupils take qualifications that offer them the best opportunity to continue in education or training. We publish KS4 and 16-18 (KS5) education destinations in performance tables on gov.uk11, meaning that they are now an established part of the accountability system.


Careers guidance and access for education and training providers

Ref: DFE-00002-2018PDF, 741KB, 40 pages


This statutory guidance is for:

Statutory guidance is issued by law; you must follow it unless there is a good reason not to.

It applies to:

  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • community schools
  • foundation or voluntary schools
  • community or foundation special schools (other than those established in a hospital)
  • academies and free schools
  • pupil referral units (PRUs)

This guidance is part of the government’s Careers strategy: making the most of everyone’s skills and talents.

Published 25 March 2015
Last updated 16 October 2018 + show all updates

  1. Added updated guidance document.
  2. Updates to careers statutory guidance for schools, reflecting policy changes announced in the Government’s careers strategy published on 4 Dec 2017.
  3. Updated information about the new single national careers quality award (paragraph 67).
  4. First published.

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