In Skills

Helping young people to fulfil their ambitions

public-policy-exchangeI had the pleasure recently of representing the North East LEP as a keynote speaker at a Public Policy Exchange event in London on the theme of ‘helping young people to fulfil their ambitions: ensuring high quality careers guidance in schools and colleges’. This event was the conclusion of several events throughout October, November and December where I have been able to share the pioneering work the North East LEP is leading to support schools and colleges to implement good careers guidance for each and every student.

I have had the honour and privilege of delivering the keynote speech at the National Careers Education Summit 2016 with Sir John Holman, have addressed the National Careers Leaders and Advisers Conference in York with David Andrews, have spoken at the Talentino ‘Same but Different’ event in Reading, exploring how young people with special educational needs and disabilities can be supported to make progress and I have addressed the independent schools conference here in the North East.

Regardless of the event, I am always so impressed by the passion and dedication of everyone working in the wider careers landscape to ensure that all young people are fully supported to make informed decisions about their future and are appropriately prepared for their next stage, whether that be further or higher education, training, apprenticeships or directly into work.

The Public Policy Exchange was the final opportunity of 2016 to share the impact of the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot here in the North East, with an audience of education experts, schools, colleges and education policy professionals.

The North East LEP has led the implementation of the project, working with 16 schools and colleges and making the North East the first region in the country to pilot the Benchmarks, which aim to transform careers guidance in schools.

The eight Benchmarks of good careers guidance have been developed in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation and are expected to form part of the national statutory guidance for schools in delivering careers advice.

We’re now half way through the two year intensive project and it’s an opportunity to review the progress made so far, the impact the project has had on the schools and pupils involved and to share what we’ve learned with our peers.

Our evaluation of year one shows that it’s possible for schools and colleges to make significant progress in raising the quality of their careers guidance in just a year, with those participating in the project being significantly closer to providing ‘good career guidance’ than when we started.

25% of the schools and colleges now fully achieve five of the Benchmarks and, on average, schools have achieved two more Benchmarks during the year. This means that some of our schools and colleges in the North East are now already comparable with the best practice observed across the country.

The feedback from the teachers we’ve been working with has been overwhelmingly positive as well:

“Being involved in the national Career Benchmarks Pilot has been the most significant and transformative period of my career as a school leader. The Pilot has had more direct impact on my professional practice than any other CPD I have ever undertaken, including a Masters in Educational Leadership and Leadership Pathways with the National College.” Sarah Flanagan, Berwick Academy.

It’s become clear that the pilot is creating pathways for young people to move through the education system and into the world of work or further education. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, with each school applying the benchmarks to their own particular situation and the benchmarks providing the useful framework through which careers provision can be developed. In this sense, schools and colleges are also creating their own pathways towards achieving the high standard of the benchmarks

One of the key things I’ve taken away from the first year of the pilot is that we need to ensure we develop a robust provision that is timed to meets the individual needs of each and every young person – if we can do this across the region, and across the country, we’ll have not only a fit for purpose provision but a world class careers education system that we can all be truly proud of.

Ryan will be sharing learnings from the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot here in the North East with schools in Swindon, and inputting into the Schools North East Future Ready Conference in early 2017.

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Richard Baker