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The new careers strategy for schools: how does it affect me?

Find out what it means for your school by reading our quick guide

The aim of the new careers strategy, released by the Department of Education (DFE) in 2017, is to create a world-class careers programme for all students across England.  

Schools, teachers, senior leaders and governors will be given clear guidance on best practice in careers education against a new framework known as the Gatsby benchmarks. 

Other aspects of the DFE’s new strategy will give students more exposure to the world of work, alongside access to alternative routes to further and higher education including technical qualifications and apprenticeships. 

What does my school have to do by September?

By September 2018 all schools across England are legally required to do two things:

1. Appoint a named careers leader at the school
2. Publish a career programme.

These are the first in a series of measures that schools are required to implement as part of the new careers strategy. 

How will my school fulfil these requirements:

1. Named careers leader

By September your school, if it hasn’t already, will have a named careers leader who will help create and support the implementation of your school’s careers programme.
A teacher or non-teaching member of staff can take this role on. The role in itself is different from that of a careers adviser, who mainly provides guidance to pupils. 
A careers leader guides the whole-school approach to embedding careers education across the curriculum and in the school ethos.
Another key aspect of the role is to ensure that the destination of school leavers is recorded and analysed to help improve the school’s careers offering in the future.  
Vicky Woodings is a careers leader from the Bourne Academy:

“By September all schools need to appoint a careers leader and work towards delivery. Schools need to work collaboratively with their own staff teams, local and national businesses and universities to deliver exciting, challenging and inspirational careers programmes that not only meet the Gatsby benchmarks but enthuse and prepare our students for the careers of the future.”

2. The careers programme

The programme will outline what steps the school plans to take to deliver good careers practice. Your school will have created the strategy with its new careers leader and senior leader team, with input from staff.

The programme will be reviewed regularly with feedback from pupils, parents, teachers and employers. 

Schools are required to publish their careers programme on their school website, so that it’s accessible in the same way they publish their behaviour policy and Ofsted reports online.

What are the Gatsby Benchmarks?

Gatsby benchmarks have been introduced as a way schools can measure their own performance against key areas of careers development. They also help promote careers as part of a whole school strategy. 
The benchmarks focus on eight key areas for schools:

1. A stable careers programme
2. Learnings from the careers and labour markets
3. Addressing the needs of each student
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

How do schools evaluate themselves against the benchmarks? 

Schools can assess themselves using the online interactive tool called Compass. It ’s used by schools, career leaders, advisers, and teachers, to determine how they currently rate against the benchmarks, with advice and resources on how to improve their ratings.
Although the benchmarks are not mandatory, they do give clear guidelines on how schools can achieve an excellent careers programme:
“The Gatsby benchmarks have been universally welcomed by careers professionals, teachers and supporters as a simple and clear framework for all schools to work towards. Every school is unique and some will find certain benchmarks easier or harder to implement depending on the needs of the students and the priorities of the school, but what is really refreshing is to see careers educators uniting in delivering these careers benchmarks across their schools.”
 Vicky Woodings, careers leader, The Bourne Academy
Here are some useful sites where you can find out more about the DFE’s new career strategy and Gatsby benchmarks:

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