In Skills

North East LEP launches Career Benchmarks Pilot

Schools and colleges within the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) area have been selected to pilot a new national careers guidance framework, designed to encourage the next generation of young people to make fully informed decisions and to begin to equip them with the skills employers need.

The Career Benchmarks Pilot was launched at the North East LEP’s offices in Newcastle by Professor Sir John Holman, who developed the eight benchmarks, and former North East LEP chief executive Bob Paton. Schools NorthEast, who played a key role in supporting the LEP to set up the pilot, were also in attendance.

Headteachers and lead representatives from the 13 schools and three colleges, who will be actively testing the implementation of the benchmarks, also attended the event.

The North East LEP was selected to run the four-year pilot programme by Lord Sainsbury’s Gatsby Foundation, which is funding the scheme and who supported Sir John in his research and development of the eight benchmarks. The pilot will involve two years of intensive careers activity with schools, colleges and local businesses as well as four years of data collection, gathered and analysed by an independent evaluator, who will report on the impact of the national pilot in terms of student outcomes and progression into higher education, apprenticeships or employment.

The national pilot will rigorously test the eight benchmarks, identify any barriers and look at how they can be overcome, as well as generate case studies from the North East to create a new model for supporting schools and colleges than can be rolled out to other LEP areas nationally. The pilot will focus on linking curriculum learning to careers, improving destinations and developing mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships with employers.

Sir John, Professor of Chemistry at York University, said: “The North East has a very cohesive schooling community, with excellent networks, and is therefore an excellent region in which to run the pilot.

“Careers guidance has a very important part to play in social mobility, which is why I am so interested in it. If young people are not able to access high quality careers guidance in schools then where else are they going to get it?”

Sir John and his team identified the key elements of ‘good career guidance’ after visiting the Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, Finland, Canada and Ireland, all of which have strong international reputations for careers guidance and educational results. They spoke to teachers, pupils and ministry officials in the six countries, and then compared their experiences with a range of schools in England.

As a result, eight benchmarks for high quality and effective careers guidance were constructed: a stable careers programme; learning from career and labour market information; addressing the needs of each pupil; linking curriculum learning to careers; encounters with employers and employees; experiences of work places; encounters with further and higher education; and personal guidance.

The North East LEP has appointed Ryan Gibson to lead the national pilot. He will work with the 16 pilot schools and colleges between north Northumberland and County Durham to support them to test the benchmarks, put together case studies and act as a link with the North East LEP, the Gatsby Foundation, Employers and a range of other key stakeholders. Ryan outlined,

“This is a fantastic opportunity to transform the quality of careers education, not only in the North East but across the rest of the country. High quality, well planned and focused careers guidance should motivate and inspire students to succeed and enable them to make informed decisions about their future. It should also give employers the confidence to know that the young people they invest in will have not only the qualifications needed to do the job but also the skills, knowledge, behaviours and attitudes required to be successful in the sector – the chance for the North East to shape this locally and nationally is incredibly exciting.”

The pilot schools and colleges are currently auditing themselves against the benchmarks to accurately determine their starting points. Each school and college will then produce an action plan, detailing how they will develop their provision in relation to the benchmarks, over the next two years, to meet the targets of the national pilot.

Vice Chair of the North East LEP Board, Andrew Hodgson, said: “The 16 schools and colleges that have signed up to the Career Benchmarks Pilot are very enthusiastic about the project and what we’re trying to achieve, both for the benefit of their own pupils and the wider North East economy.

“Ultimately, we hope the scheme will play an important role in providing employers with workers boasting the knowledge and abilities they need to close the skills gap, and in creating more and better jobs for the North East.”

The schools and colleges taking part in the pilot are:

  • Shotton Hall Academy, Peterlee
  • Excelsior Academy, Newcastle
  • Park View Academy, Chester le Street
  • Harton Technology College, South Shields
  • Greenfield Community College, Newton Aycliffe
  • Kenton School, Newcastle
  • Berwick Academy, Berwick
  • Castle View Academy, Sunderland
  • The Link School, Sunderland
  • Sunderland College, Sunderland
  • St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, Hebburn
  • King Edward VI School, Morpeth
  • Bishop Auckland College, Bishop Auckland
  • East Durham College, Peterlee
  • Northumberland Church of England Academy, Ashington
  • Churchill Community College, Wallsend
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