Embedding the Good Career Guidance benchmarks in schools and colleges

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, yet career guidance in English schools has often been criticised for being inadequate and patchy.

Embedding the Good Career Guidance benchmarks in schools and colleges

By publishing information for schools, developing tools to encourage the use of the Good Career Guidance benchmarks, and encouraging the use of labour market information (LMI) and pupil destination data, we are working with partners to support schools and colleges to implement the benchmarks and improve career advice and guidance for all young people.

Support for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

Good career guidance ensures that all young people, whatever their needs, background or ambitions, know the options open to them and can make the informed choices needed to fulfil their potential. This is particularly important for the more than one million young people in England recognised as having SEND. Far too often, these young people can be held back by negative stereotypes and assumptions about their limitations.

A group of specialist practitioners and national advocates for SEND, formed during the pilot of the Gatsby Benchmarks, gave the clear message that it would not be appropriate to define a separate set of Benchmarks for students with SEND. But we recognise that some of the Benchmarks may be implemented in a different way in special schools and colleges, alternative provision, and for some students with SEND in the mainstream.

Gatsby has produced Good Career Guidance: Perspectives from the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Sector, in partnership with The Careers & Enterprise Company and Disability Rights UK. It brings together the views of leading practitioners and national experts on the importance of career guidance for students with SEND. They each describe how they, or those they support, have successfully used the Benchmarks to deliver better career guidance for students with a wide range of needs and disabilities.

The publication can be downloaded here, and more information can be found on the Good Career Guidance website.


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 Gatsby's Good Career Guidance benchmarks.

Teach First, Head Teacher Unions (including NAHT and ASCL), Local Enterprise Partnerships and teachers across the UK have helped to design the tool and will continue to advise us on its development.

Compass can be accessed by following this link: 


On Gatsby’s initiative, in 2013 the UKCES developed the ‘LMI for All’ tool, which connects existing sources of high-quality, reliable LMI with the aim of informing careers decisions. Rather than act as a website that presents data to young people, LMI for All makes data freely available to web developers to create tools to support career guidance. This service presents a powerful opportunity to give high-quality, up-to-date, labour market information to young people making decisions about their future. Innovative approaches to using LMI are emerging from the North East Good Career Guidance pilot and we will be looking to share these insights with schools and colleges across the country.

The government now publishes pupil destination data – the information about where students go onto after they leave school or college – as a headline accountability measure. This is a positive step in helping schools prioritise career guidance. We also see pupil destination data as useful information for individual institutions to evaluate and improve their own career guidance programmes. Schools and colleges in the North East pilot established new approaches to using destination data and we will share this good practice with policy makers, key stakeholders and education institutions across the country. 


School Career Leaders

Every school needs strong careers leadership if they are to make the significant changes that are necessary to improve career guidance. We saw in the North East pilot that a high calibre Career Leader is the cornerstone of change in a school. This is not the person delivering 1:1 guidance, or someone from an external agency, but a core member of the school’s middle leadership team. In the Netherlands they are called the ‘schooldekaan’ and sit alongside the principal of the school. Their job is complex, and requires the authority to conduct the breadth of career guidance activity being delivered across the school. Career Leaders need to understand the Gatsby Benchmarks, develop a strategy alongside school leadership, and act as a contact point for the many external organisations that offer support.

We believe every school should be supported and encouraged to have a fully-trained Career Leader. Along with key organisations such as Teach First, The Careers and Enterprise Company and the Careers Development Institute, we continue to work to try and make this a reality.