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A partnership that works both ways


Jane Austin, Head of HR and Communications at water retail company Wave, became involved in the North East LEP’s Enterprise Adviser programme after Wave’s CEO heard about the programme at a conference.

Jane was matched with a school just a couple of miles from where she lives and is now working in partnership with Fiona Brennan, (pictured left), Work-Related Learning Co-ordinator at Marden High School in North Tyneside.

Together, Jane (pictured below) and Fiona aim to strengthen careers guidance at the school, ensuring that the school achieves the eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks which have been successfully piloted here in the North East and now form a central part of the Government’s new careers strategy.

“We had already completed an internal audit to see how the school was performing against the eight benchmarks, and this helped us to identify our priorities for the academic year, and for our work with Jane,” explained Fiona. “For example, we found that our careers provision varied across year groups and that we needed to provide more opportunities for our younger pupils.”

 “Working together with Jane has been a really positive experience and I feel that we’re making good progress towards achieving the benchmarks. The most useful thing has been having the support of someone who is looking at our situation from a different perspective.

 “We want to make sure that students come away from our career events feeling inspired and wanting to know more. We need to spark their interest and give them experiences which they can relate to.

 “We now have a number of careers-focused events planned for different year groups in the New Year and more in the pipeline – these include a half day event where pupils will run their own business, learning how to make business decisions in areas such as pricing, HR and production. We’re also challenging stereotypes, with younger pupils meeting people who work in all sorts of different careers, from firefighters to marketers.

“I’m really, really happy with our partnership and Jane’s experience and passion means we work very well together.

 Jane Austin added: “Working together, we’ve made huge progress in a short time. We’ve moved towards filling the gaps in provision which the school had already identified and we’re in a position now where we have a plan for the careers offering for every year group and we can evidence the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks in a more robust way across all ages.

 “While I’m working with the school on a strategic level, I’ll still be supporting them at events which is great as I have the pleasure of watching the students grow and, every time, I come away astounded by them.

 “There’s something amazing about a partnership between business and education. The school gains from it but so does the business.

 “I’ll be calling on my colleagues in finance, sales and our CEO, who will all be volunteering at events and sharing their knowledge with pupils. Our employees get a lot out of being involved and opportunities to volunteer are really valued by people at all levels – the partnership really does work both ways and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

 Find out more about the North East LEP Enterprise Adviser programme.


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Education Challenge: Join the team responsible for trialling next generation of learning in North East Schools

During 2017 we’ve been working closely with colleagues in Nashville, USA and across the UK as the North East prepares to be the first place outside America to trial elements of a new model of learning, which has already transformed the way young people learn and achieve across more than 30 school districts in the USA.

We visited Nashville in September and hosted a return visit to the North East in November, and have been inspired by the way this approach can really make a difference to young people’s futures – it’s a proven example of international best practice and the fact that we have the opportunity to develop it here in the North East LEP area is hugely exciting.

The Academies Nashville model places employer engagement at the centre of education and, when it was implemented in Nashville, resulted in an almost 23% rise in high school graduation rates as well as improvements in attainment, discipline and attendance.

Pupils learn through project-based learning, completing courses which relate to sectors they’re interested in – from healthcare to hospitality – while close partnerships with employers result in industry placements for both students and teachers.

It’s now time for us to start translating elements of the model for use in the North East so as we enter the New Year, we’re looking for four people to join our project team and help us to make this happen.

We’re already working with three schools – Excelsior Academy, Norham High School and Churchill Community College – who will be the first to trial the approach. These schools will work closely with the North East LEP and our partners at The Edge Foundation, Future Me and businesses across the region.

The first post we’re recruiting for is a Regional ‘Careers in the Curriculum’ Project Lead who will be based here at the North East LEP offices in Newcastle. This person will liaise with employers and teachers across the region, developing opportunities for teacher CPD placements in industry and co-designing project-based learning for pupils. This person will also be responsible for sharing what we learn with the wider region, making sure that as many schools as possible benefit from this project.

We’re also recruiting three Industry Alignment Managers who will be based in each of the three pilot schools. They will work with teaching staff to develop project-based learning approaches in the school, evaluating the impact of the approach and managing relationships with employers.

Each of these four posts will play a key part in this ambitious and exciting project. The project is a core element of the region’s strategic economic plan, where our education challenge. It’s an opportunity to be a part of something which can make a real difference to outcomes for our young people, preparing them with the skills they need to start their careers and helping businesses and schools work more closely together within the curriculum.

We need to find people who are creative thinkers, who can connect a variety of stakeholders with a common aim and who, above all, are enthusiastic and motivated about making a difference for young people in the North East.

Could that be you or someone you know?

The ‘Next Generation Learning’ project is part of the North East LEP’s Education Challenge, which aims to reduce the gap between the region’s best and lowest performing secondary schools and improve social mobility in our young people. The education challenge will support teachers, schools, governors and leaders to integrate careers learning into the curriculum to ensure those entering the workforce in the future have the skill level to support our diverse economy and are fully aware of the progression routes available to make this happen.

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North East LEP welcomes Careers Strategy and celebrates Gatsby Career Benchmarks success

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today welcomed the news that the Government’s new Careers Strategy will centre around the eight Gatsby Good Career Guidance Benchmarks piloted here in the North East.

In September 2015, sixteen schools and colleges within the North East LEP area became the first in the UK to test the benchmarks, designed to equip the next generation with the skills needed by employers.

Within a year the North East LEP’s groundbreaking work in rolling out this pilot had attracted national acclaim.

Andrew Hodgson, chair of the North East LEP, said: “Good career guidance is crucial for social mobility.  We are delighted to see the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks front and centre of the Government’s national careers strategy.

“After piloting this approach in the North East over the past two years, and with over 100 schools now working to achieve the Benchmarks, we are seeing the hugely positive impact they can make to each and every pupil in schools and colleges.”

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director for the North East LEP said: “I’d like to thank Gatsby for trusting in us to deliver the pilot and for recognising the North East LEP’s ability to influence national education policy.

“I’d also like to thank those schools and colleges who were initially involved through the pilot and to those who have since shown their support by signing up. The scale of the project has been critical in demonstrating the transformative power of the eight Gatsby benchmarks.

“Finally it’s important to recognise the team at the North East LEP who have worked tirelessly to roll out this initiative. Through our collaborative approach we have been able to demonstrate the resounding success of the Gatsby Good Career Guidance Benchmarks on a national level and showcase the excellent practice taking place here in the region.”

The Careers Strategy is backed by £4m of funding and includes a dedicated careers leader in all schools and colleges in the country to ensure people have access to the best careers support, giving them the best possible start to their professional life.

Sir John Holman, senior advisor to the Gatsby Foundation and author of the Gatsby Career Benchmark report, said: “Good Career Guidance is the key to social mobility. For young people coming from a background of low socioeconomic aspirations, school career guidance is their best hope of charting the way to a rewarding future career.

“We now know, from our international study and from the work of career guidance experts, what makes for good career guidance: it is described by the eight Gatsby benchmarks which have been shown by the pilot in the North East of England to have such a powerful positive effect in schools and colleges.

“I am very pleased that the Department for Education has put these benchmarks at the heart of its strategy.”

The North East LEP’s national facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot, Ryan Gibson, said: “Since the North East became the first UK region to pilot the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, the approach has proved to be transformational for careers guidance in our schools and colleges.

“At the pilot’s start, no UK school was achieving more than five benchmarks and 50% of schools and colleges in this region weren’t achieving any at all. Now 88% of our schools and colleges are achieving six to eight, with every single one achieving a minimum of four – the benchmarks are a vital part of our plan to ensure that every young person in the North East can make a successful transition into their future career.”

More information on the new Careers Strategy can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/careers-guidance-for-modern-country-unveiled.

Details of the eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks can be found here: www.goodcareerguidance.org.uk

For more information about the North East LEP’s Skills programme, please visit www.nelep.co.uk.



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Celebrating success: The Enterprise Adviser Network

The North East LEP’s Enterprise Adviser Network connects senior business leaders with schools and colleges, working closely with their senior leadership team to develop and drive a careers strategy that helps young people gain more experience of the world of work and have meaningful encounters with employers.

Lindsey Peek, North East LEP Enterprise Co-ordinator, gives an update on the Network’s success so far:

We’ve had an excellent response from the region’s schools, colleges and businesses since we started the North East’s Enterprise Adviser Network in 2015.


To date we’ve partnered 45 Enterprise Advisers with 45 schools and colleges across the North East, and we’re looking to achieve more. We’re proud to have some of the region’s most influential business leaders involved, representing a range of different sectors.


They include Giselle Stewart, Director of Corporate Affairs at video game company Ubisoft Reflections, Sophie Pickup, ‎Learning & Development Manager at Northumbrian Water Group and Jen Chamley, Community Engagement Manager at Capita Property & Infrastructure Ltd.


Other leading organisations to join our Enterprise Adviser Network initiative include Barclays, British Engines, Bellway Homes, Unipres, ORE Catapult, Accenture, Printed.com and Campus North.


The role of the Enterprise Adviser is to bridge the gap between business and education and create a whole school or college strategy for careers, enterprise and employer engagement. From routes to employment and interview skills to work experience and apprenticeships, students learn about the many career opportunities available to them in the North East and educators develop a better understanding of the local economy, which improves the quality of the careers advice and guidance they can provide to students.


Creating a meaningful link between education and business has greatly improved student’s understanding of the labour market and helped the business community access a talented and enthusiastic future workforce who will build the economy of tomorrow.


Just one example of the success of our Enterprise Adviser Network initiative is Churchill Community College’s partnership with Accenture.

Karen Marshall, Apprentice, Education and Engagement Lead at Accenture, introduced students to a range of careers-themed events including career speed dating, interactive careers fairs, mock interview events and assemblies. Karen, in partnership with Churchill Community College, also delivered an innovative Assessment Centre simulation exercise for Year 13 students to equip them with experience of a real life work situation. Accenture put the whole year group through the selection process offering guidance on CV writing before taking 40 students for a full assessment centre experience. Many of the college’s GSCE students have also met curriculum targets as part of site visits involving Accenture staff.


The Northumberland Church of England Academy’s partnership with ORE Catapult has been citied as an example of best practice by education experts.

As well as taking part in the Academy’s World of Work Day, which sees over 50 leading employers and learning providers give students an insight into a range of different careers, ORE Catapult has also provided work experience opportunities and one to one mentoring. Mark Fox, Careers and Employability Manager at Northumberland Church of England Academy and Tony Quinn, Operations Director at ORE Catapult will be continuing to work together to provide students with unique career guidance and development experiences.


To highlight some of the fantastic work being delivered as part of the initiative, we’ve produced a series of videos featuring some of the schools taking part.

Sam Mcloughlin at Studio West School, Newcastle upon Tyne, shared his first-hand experience of the benefits that come from working with an Enterprise Adviser. You can view the video here:

Studio West

We’re still looking for schools and colleges across the North East to join our Enterprise Adviser Network Initiative and partner with leading businesses on a journey to improve careers education and guidance for young people in the region.


If you’d like to find out more, please contact me or one my colleagues:

Lindsey Peek
[email protected]

Denis Heaney
[email protected]

Andrew Mills
[email protected]

We look forward to working with you

Lindsey Peek
Enterprise Co-ordinator, Enterprise Adviser Programme at the North East LEP

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Success of North East LEP’s Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot recognised at industry events

Thanks to the huge success of the North East LEP’s role in delivering the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot, Ryan Gibson – National Facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot at North East LEP – has been invited to speak at a number of regional and national events in November to share some of our key learnings from the project.

The North East LEP region is the first in the country to pilot the National Career Benchmarks – developed in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation – that Government is expected to announce will form part of new statutory guidance for schools in delivering careers advice.

Sixteen schools and colleges in the North East LEP area are currently taking part in the national pilot, which comprises of two years’ intensive careers activity with schools, colleges and local businesses as well as four years of data collection, gathered and analysed by an independent evaluator.

Ryan will be speaking at the following events in November 2016:

National Careers Education Summit in London
3 November

Ryan will be joining Sir John Holman, who first developed the National Career Benchmarks in partnership with the The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, to deliver the event’s keynote address.

Bridging the gap between education and employment event in Newcastle
4 November

Ryan will be sharing his experience of how the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot as created a framework for high quality engagement between business and education.

SEN Careers Conference in Reading
9 November

As special guest of the event, Ryan will reinforce that the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot has been transformative for schools, colleges, businesses and young people.

National Conference for Careers Leaders and Advisers in York
10 & 11 November

Speaking at the event on Thursday 10 November, Ryan will be discussing the positive impact of the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot on schools and colleges.

LMI Event in Durham (with the National Careers Service)
17 November

The wider North East LEP skills team will be speaking at this event to share details on the refresh of the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan as well as the ongoing success and impact of the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot.

Practice sharing event with the Edge Foundation
22nd November

The 16 schools and colleges taking part in the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot will be joined by schools from Nottingham, Knowsley, Crewe and London to share good practice at this event delivered in partnership with the Edge Foundation.

Northern Independent Schools Network Meeting for Heads of 6th and Careers Leads
23 November

Ryan will be delivering a workshop about the National Career Benchmarks with a focus on the North East LEP’s role in delivering the successful pilot.

Department for Education visit
29 November

Members of the Careers team at the Department for Education will visit some of the North East LEP’s pilot schools as part of a visit to see, first hand, the success of the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot in the North East LEP area.

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Transforming careers guidance and the impact on social mobility

Ryan Gibson, Facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot at the North East LEP, gives his thoughts on the recent House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility report.

The House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility released a report on Friday 8 April that argued that young people who do not go to university are ‘overlooked and left behind’.

It suggested students leave the education system without the skills necessary for
work and life and more should be done to ‘improve careers guidance and advice for young people’.

Baroness Corston, Chairman of The Select Committee on Social Mobility, was interviewed on BBC News and said “…schools, employers, FE Colleges and LEPs have no means of working together, and they should have.”

Whilst I don’t disagree with the report’s contents or the recommendations outlined by the Committee, I – like many of my colleagues in the North East – were surprised there was no mention of the innovative work the North East LEP is doing with the Gatsby Foundation to transform careers guidance not just here in the region, but across the country.

The North East LEP, in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation, is currently piloting the National Career Benchmarks; eight clearly defined benchmarks for good career guidance, that when implemented, will improve students’ transition from school to work by allowing them to make fully informed decisions about their future.

The eight benchmarks are:

1. A stable careers programme
2. Learning from career and labour market information
3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
5. Encounters with employers and employees
6. Experiences of work places
7. Encounters with further and higher education
8. Personal guidance

The pilot is already moving apace. Only last week we awarded the first of our partner schools funding to begin work on their innovative ideas to improve careers education.

Of the recommendations outlined in the Select Committee Report, I’m proud to say many of these are already being addressed in the North East LEP region.

The need for ‘professional careers guidance that is independent of schools or colleges, delivered face-to-face, helping them to choose their individual routes forward’ is something we’re addressing through the benchmarks, which require schools and colleges to ensure that ‘every student should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a careers adviser…trained to the appropriate level…and be available whenever significant study or career choices are being made…timed to meet individual needs.

Another recommendation from the report is ‘young people need careers education in schools which is embedded into and fits alongside the curriculum and is informed by labour market information.’ Again, this is something we are helping to facilitate in the North East through the Enterprise Adviser initiative, strategically linking business leaders with schools and colleges across the region, in mutually beneficial partnerships, to help bridge the gap between education and the world of work. We already have the support of a number of education and business organisations and the Department for Education are working very closely with us.

There are other key recommendations the Benchmarks are delivering on, including the importance of work experience and our work, here in the North East, suggests there is no single ‘magic bullet’ for transforming this agenda. Rather it is about doing a number of things, identified within the eight benchmarks of good career guidance, doing them consistently, doing them well and doing them for each and every student.

Together with partners in Government, education and the business sector we are hoping to bring about significant change to the quality and delivery of careers education in the England and I’m happy to report the collaboration needed to make this happen is beginning to take place. Whilst there is still work to be done, we are starting to see the indications of impact already.

Ultimately this project is about helping young people make fully informed decisions about their future by better connecting them to information, advice and opportunities so that they can be inspired about their future, improving the pathway to work and delivering business growth. I take it as a positive that here in the North East we are already addressing many of the recommendations outlined in the Select Committee report.

If anyone has any questions about the Gatsby National Career Benchmarks Pilot, please feel free to contact me via [email protected].

Ryan Gibson
Facilitator for the Careers Benchmark Pilot at the North East LEP

To read The Select Committee report on Social Mobility in full, click here.