Education Challenge

Building on the success of the Gatsby Career Benchmarks the Education Challenge will support teachers, school leaders and governors to integrate an understanding of the world of work and career opportunities into the curriculum to ensure those entering the workforce have the skills, both academics and employability, to support our diverse economy and are fully aware of the progression routes available to make this happen.

Why do we need the Education Challenge programme?

Our primary schools perform highly when compared with national performance. The performance of our secondary schools is much more mixed and, in terms of outcomes in many areas, falls behind national performance. Post-school destinations also fall behind the national statistics, with a higher proportion of young people not in education, employment or training. Fewer North East school leavers go on to attend the top performing UK universities compared to other areas of the country.

Skills shortages and skills gaps suggest there are mismatches between the skills employers are looking for and those available in the workforce, especially in technical skills.

What does the Education Challenge programme involve?

Ford Next Generation Learning pilot:

In 2005, schools in Nashville adopted a new approach to learning which put employer engagement at the heart of education. The model resulted in a 23% rise in graduation rates over 10 years and went on to boost student attainment in 25 US states. The North East LEP, working closely with The Edge Foundation, Ford Next Generation Learning and schools and colleges in the North East, will be translating elements of the Academies of Nashville model and building an approach that works in the context of this country. The vision is to build a model in the UK that is impactful, scalable and replicable.

The key elements the pilot will focus on are: school leadership, high quality CPD, rich employer engagement, teaching and learning through applied context, early preparation for the next stage, wider skills, and student well-being.

A focus on:

Teaching and Learning through applied context

  • Co-development of projects with industry being at the heart of the curriculum (Gatsby Benchmark 4), making learning in school relevant to the workplace, raising students’ engagement, aspirations and attainment, equipping them with the skills employers are looking for and preparing them for further and higher education, apprenticeships and their future careers.
  • Creating rich employer engagement with schools through sustainable partnerships
  • Disseminating resources for schools, based on best practice, to support the development and delivery of careers in the curriculum.

High quality CPD

  • Improving teachers’ understanding of regional labour market information and higher education needs within this context.
  • Working with partners to support and share high quality CPD opportunities for teachers in the North East.


  • It is recognised that a strong and knowledgeable governing body brings a range of skills and experience to support the school. Through Education Challenge we will support partners to promote and recruit governors into North East schools.

More information:

To find out more about the Education Challenge, contact Neil Willis on [email protected] or (0191) 338 7420.