Good Career Guidance

Good career guidance is critical if young people are to raise their aspirations and capitalise on the opportunities available to them. We commissioned Sir John Holman to research what pragmatic actions could improve career guidance in secondary schools and we are piloting the recommendations with schools.

Teacher and students - good career guidance
Student receiving one to one career guidance
Students in classroom receiving career guidance from teacher

We undertook international visits, reviewed best practice in the UK and studied available literature to formulate our eight benchmarks of good career guidance.

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Good career guidance has never been more important. Changes in technology and in the labour market mean that increasing numbers of jobs require specific education and training. This has produced new vocational options which, at present, are not well understood by many young people or their teachers. Furthermore, the decision to go to university now means a major financial commitment, rather than being a safe default choice. Yet, despite its importance, career guidance in English schools has often been criticised for being inadequate and patchy.

Against this background, in 2013 Gatsby commissioned Sir John Holman - Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of York, senior education adviser and former headteacher - with setting out what career guidance in England would be like were it good by international standards.


Career guidance resources & organisations

Good Career Guidance Benchmarks

Through six international visits, analysis of good practice in English schools and a comprehensive review of current literature, a set of eight benchmarks covering different dimensions of good career guidance was identified. After surveying a sample of English schools and commissioning PwC to identify the costs of implementation, Sir John made ten recommendations on how to improve the career guidance system.

The Benchmarks

  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

Many organisations have embedded the benchmarks into their work including; the Careers and Enterprise Company, Teach First and the Sutton Trust. We continue to support the improvement of career guidance in schools and we are piloting approaches to reaching the benchmarks in schools and colleges in the North East of England.

Piloting the benchmarks

To test the eight benchmarks identified in the Good Career Guidance report and collect evidence on the impact of structuring career information, advice and education guidance (CIAEG) in this way, Gatsby has funded the North East Local Enterprise Partnership to run a pilot of this approach across a minimum of 13 state-funded secondary schools and 3 colleges in the UK. The intensive pilot will be taking place in schools over two academic years, starting in September 2015 and ending in July 2017, with two additional years of school data collection until July 2019 to capture the impact of the pilot.

In this pilot we are particularly interested in exploring approaches to using Labour Market Information (LMI) and capturing the destinations of schools leavers.

Interactive map of schools involved

Compass - Careers Benchmark Tool

Compass is a self-evaluation tool, created in partnership with The Careers and Enterprise Company, which helps schools gain a greater understanding of how their provision of career education and guidance compares to the model of good practice set out in the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Good Career Guidance Benchmarks.

Teach First, NAHT, LEPs and teachers across the UK have helped to design the tool and will continue to advise us on its development.

The tool can be accessed by following this link:

It is clear that there is no single ‘magic bullet’ for good career guidance: it is about doing a number of things, identified in the benchmarks, consistently and well.
Sir John Holman