Headteachers and principals continue to prioritise career guidance despite COVID-19

2 September 2020 Rob Cremona

Almost three quarters (72%) of secondary school and college leaders feel that careers guidance has become even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research funded by Gatsby which also revealed the extent of disruption to career guidance during the COVID-19 lockdown, and how it has altered plans for careers in the new academic year.

Headteachers and principals continue to prioritise career guidance despite COVID-19

Gatsby commissioned the research agency Pye Tait to survey over 360 secondary school and college headteachers, principals and their careers teams from June to July 2020. The results highlighted the significant challenges posed by COVID-19 in the latter half of the 2019-2020 academic year, with 49% of schools and colleges reducing the amount of time students spent on careers guidance activities, and almost a fifth of schools putting activities fully on hold. However, the vast majority of institutions, particularly colleges, were able to find online alternatives or introduce new activities for their students.

Positively, there was significant agreement amongst leaders on the importance of careers guidance – with nearly three quarters of schools and colleges placing it as their top, or one of their top five, priorities for the new academic year (2020-2021), and universal support for the Gatsby Benchmarks. There was also a recognition that relationships with parents had improved, and a hope that their involvement in careers programmes would continue to grow.

However, as schools and colleges were preparing for the new academic year there were ongoing concerns, including how best to engage with and access employers; provide up to date labour market information; and ensure all students have access to personal guidance.

Gatsby is therefore working with partners on providing practical support to senior leadership teams over the new academic year, and together with The Careers & Enterprise Company we are releasing guidance for Careers Leaders on how to keep delivering the Gatsby Benchmarks during the disruption of the pandemic and its aftermath. If you would like to get in touch with the Gatsby Foundation about your experiences of planning and delivering career guidance for the new academic year, please email

To explore the results further, please see the report: Secondary school and college leadership views on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on careers guidance.

Headteachers and principals continue to prioritise career guidance despite COVID-19