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Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot – Harton Academy case study

In 2015, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership began the two-year Good Career Guidance Benchmark Pilot in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation and 16 secondary schools and colleges from across the region.

The success of the pilot in the North East LEP area led to government launching new statutory guidance for schools on how to deliver careers education, with the Gatsby Career Benchmarks at its very heart.

We spoke to some of the participants in the Benchmarks pilot about the transformational impact it had – and continues to have - on the delivery of careers guidance in their school / college.

To find out more about the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, visit www.northeastambition.co.uk/about

Name of interviewee: Charlotte Sinnett

Job title: Careers Leader

Name of school: Harton Academy, South Tyneside

1. How was careers guidance delivered prior to participating in the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot?

We’ve always been a school which has invested in careers and progression, but before taking part in the pilot, our careers provision was definitely less embedded across the curriculum. We mainly delivered it through careers guidance appointments and a range of add-on activities, visits and events with employers, FE and HE providers. We had links with a handful of local employers but not as many as we do now.

2. How did the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot change the way careers education was implemented and delivered at Harton Academy?

The pilot has really given us an evidence-based framework of best practice, it’s helped us to embed careers guidance throughout the curriculum, and it’s given us a way to evaluate what we’re doing. It’s also encouraged us to take a step back and think about the best way to deliver careers guidance for all our students.

3. How did the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot improve your connections with local businesses and employers?

The project has encouraged us to build more links with local employers, and with organisations like the North East LEP being involved, it’s been so much easier to access employers and resources, instead of everyone trying to do it on an individual school basis.

4. Do you think students better understand the opportunities in the local labour market and the full range of pathways available to access them?

Yes - in the student voice surveys we’ve carried out, young people have said that they’re far more aware of the opportunities out there and they’re more confident in making careers-related decisions.

We’ve also noticed that when we do mock interviews, our students are better prepared and we’ve seen positive results when it comes to university and college applications, including those applying to Oxbridge.

5. Why is it so important for careers guidance to be embedded across the school?

Students’ careers interests are so diverse and we can only show the right diversity of employers by embedding it within their subject-based learning. This also means they can see careers within the context of the subject they’re studying.

It’s also important that the transferable skills and personal development that are central to careers guidance aren’t just addressed once. They need to be revisited on a regular basis, with a consistent approach. To provide the right support and opportunities for every student, we need to have every teacher involved.

6. How has adopting the Gatsby Career Benchmarks and the pilot improved outcomes for students or changed their attitudes to careers?

It’s helped our young people become career-ready and we’ve noticed a change in their attitudes as well – they’re talking more positively about their futures.

7. How has the expansion of the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks through the North East Ambition programme contributed to the improvement of careers education in your school, and across the North East?

The culture of collaboration and sharing that the pilot has brought has been a huge positive for the region. Sometimes as a Careers Leader you find yourself working in isolation but being able to work with like-minded people who are passionate about careers has given us a real boost and it’s been a highlight of the programme.