Good Career Guidance, the next 10 years - reflections from Sir John Holman

11 January 2023 Sir John Holman

I was first convinced of the importance of good career guidance in schools and colleges when I was a headteacher, particularly for those young people without the social capital to be supported elsewhere. This year will mark a decade since David Sainsbury asked me to embark on my work which defined the eight Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance. There has since been significant progress and there is much to celebrate. We now have powerful evidence that the using the Benchmarks leads to a positive impact on the progression of young people.

Good Career Guidance, the next 10 years - reflections from Sir John Holman

The success of the original pilot of the Benchmarks in the North-East of England, proved that the Gatsby Benchmarks are an effective framework for schools and colleges to follow.  It also identified several key levers for success which have now been adopted across England. Every school and college now have a Careers Leader, who is able to access high quality training, and is supported by a national system of Careers Hubs managed by the Careers & Enterprise Company. The Gatsby Benchmarks are the golden thread that binds this system together. 

Where the system is working effectively – with strong leadership at both the institution and local levels - we see even greater Benchmark achievement. This is important because these high-quality inputs lead to improved outcomes, such as increased career readiness, better study choices, more motivated young people and a reduction in those young people who become NEET.   

Millions of young people are now benefiting from improved careers provision as a result of the Gatsby Benchmarks being embedded within the education system. The Benchmarks have provided a clear and stable framework for schools and colleges and we know that stability is key. When there is stability, everyone knows what needs to be achieved, their role in making it happen, and how to engage with the system.   

The Gatsby Foundation knows that for the stability offered by the Benchmarks to endure for the next decade, the time is right for deep analysis and evidence gathering of how schools and colleges have implemented the Benchmarks to be undertaken. Innovations in practice should be captured and any challenges that remain addressed. This will help us identify what needs to be done to ensure that the Gatsby Benchmarks continue to be an ambitious and impactful framework for schools and colleges. 

Ryan Gibson, who led the original pilot of the Benchmarks in the North East prior to his role as national careers lead at Academies Enterprise Trust, will manage this work over the next two years. I have full confidence in him, the Gatsby Careers team led by Beth Jones, and the sector as a whole, as we shape a future vision for the next ten years of Good Career Guidance.  

Sir John Holman 

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Good Career Guidance, the next 10 years - reflections from Sir John Holman