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Ground-breaking Careers Pilot Hailed a Success

An independent evaluation of the Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance Pilot has been releasedThe North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) played a central role in the Pilot and Skills Director Michelle Rainbow reflects on this and how even after the Pilot was completed, the Benchmarks have remained at the heart of the North East Ambition programme.  

I was so proud when I read the evaluation – to hear the Pilot described as transformational and to know that the North East played such a pivotal role has been a real honour.   

We’ve always believed that the right careers education can have lifelong rewards for young people and to see that recognised independently today is fantastic.  

We started with 12 schools, three colleges and one pupil referral unit taking part in the Pilot, which ran across two academic years (2015/2016 and 2016/2017). 

The Pilot was designed to support those schools and colleges to implement the eight Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance, evaluate how they were implemented, and identify what impacts might result from this. Today’s report notes the “observable and positive impact on learners, especially those who are most disadvantaged” – demonstrating the value that the Benchmarks can bring.  

The North East Strategic Economic Plan is our blueprint for growth in the North East. We know that skills and people are central to successful economies and through our work with the Pilot we’ve defined a programme with careers at its coreOur approach was bolstered by government integrating the Benchmarks into the national careers strategy, which requires every secondary school to adopt the Benchmarks and North East Ambition is here to support them to do that.  

North East Ambition’s key principle is “each and every”, making sure that every single student has the opportunity to access good careers guidance and recognise what their pathway could be. Why? Because we too believe it can be transformational.  

We have secured £3.1m European and match funding to support our North East Ambition programme that sees us working with 170 secondary schools and all nine of our FE colleges and two 6th form centres. This is a clear demonstration of our commitment to our pledge to work with each and every pupil in our region so that no one is left behind.  

We have also launched a new Pilot to adapt and translate the Benchmarks for primary aged pupils. There’s increasing evidence to show that children begin to form ideas about their futures when they’re as young as five or six. And by the age of 10, many young people have already made career limiting decisions, which are fixed by the time they’re 14. Imagine how we could change that trajectory if we could embed Benchmarks that related to primary aged pupils. We are one year in and our results are extremely encouraging.  

We haven’t let the impact of COVID-19 slow us down either. The trusted relationships we have built with the schools and colleges through over the past five years gave us the established network and routes into schools and colleges that we needed to continue to support young learners at the most challenging time. 

One of the things we have been incredibly keen to keep going is helping young people experience the world of work even during COVID-19 where they can’t physically get into workplaces. This is why, in response to requests from Careers Leaders, we have developed a Work Experience Framework, which will be launched next week. As an online resource, the site will support students and employers to facilitate virtual work experience  

The Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance Pilot was an incredible success and we are grateful that our partnership with the Gatsby Foundation enabled us to play such a critical role in it. But the work is not over – this is just the start as we continue to lead the way in showing our young people there is a world of opportunity available to them and anything is possible. 

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In conversation with Linda Conlon, Chief Executive of the International Centre for Life, about inspiring young people through careers education

The world of work today is very different to the one I first joined. It’s estimated young people can expect to change careers between five and seven times, and at least two of those will not be of their choosing. Looking back with what may be rose-tinted glasses, it seemed easier to move around and experience different jobs when I began my career.

I think if I was looking to offer some general advice to young people today it would be to keep your career options open. Don’t close them down before you have to and focus on one specific area.

It’s a positive thing to sample different work environments. I’ve worked for a multinational company, the government, a regional development agency, and for a number of years I ran my own marketing consultancy, which allowed me to work with a range of businesses and clients.

It’s not always about what you do, but the environment that you work in. If you’re happy and comfortable in your chosen environment you feel like you belong, and that gives you the best chance of a fulfilling and rewarding career.

It always strikes me as sad when some people are stuck in jobs they don’t like. You spend more time at work – in normal circumstances – with your work colleagues than you do at home. Why then would you do something you don’t enjoy?

When I was at school, I didn’t really benefit from any specific careers advice; there certainly wasn’t a sustained programme to recognise talent. Someone would come to the school for half a day and ask what you liked doing. I do remember someone saying they wanted to travel and they were advised to be a bus driver.

It was also quite common at the time to choose between arts-based or science-based subjects. Now, people don’t necessarily have to do the classic trio of subjects – maths, physics and chemistry. People can choose to study a mix of subjects that gives them a breadth of knowledge.

It’s really important to introduce people to the world of work from an early stage and that’s something we try to do in the centre’s visitor attraction, Life Science Centre. We offer an informal learning environment and we want to inspire people when they visit, ignite their curiosity and get them thinking in different ways. We encourage people to think creatively and imaginatively. Those skills are important in the world of work, particularly in science.

We have a mantra at Life Science Centre, which is ‘hands on, minds on, hearts on’. I firmly believe people learn better when they’re actively engaged in something that interests them.

It’s also important to say it’s okay to not know what you want to do in the future; people shouldn’t be worried or ashamed about that. Take your time and get it right.

We often talk about change in the workplace, and we’re currently seeing that at an unprecedented rate. That’s why I think young people should be flexible and not take themselves down a route they’re not sure of.

Parents have an important role to play in that, too. Young people often find they move unconsciously down a career path prompted by their parents.

Sadly, stereotypes still prevail in the science and technology sector, and some of that can come from parents, especially those without an interest in the area. That can discourage young people from pursuing STEM subjects, so we need to help students and their parents understand how science qualifications can stand them in good stead across many different careers.

In the gaming sector, for example, a large majority of people have qualifications in maths and physics. Unfortunately, young people don’t often make the connection between those exciting, emerging jobs and science subjects.

I’m often asked about my role within the science sector, and what skills and qualifications it takes to become a chief executive.

The first skill is to learn from your mistakes. We all make them, but it’s how you learn from the experience that’s important. I think it also benefits your staff to see someone in a senior leadership position make a mistake and own up to it. It gives them the courage to do the same.

Something that’s always been, and will continue to be important, is communication. It’s essential to be able to explain to people not just what, but why they’re doing something. When people don’t know what’s happening, they fill in the gaps themselves. Communications is something I feel I have a particular strength in, as I worked in the industry for a long time. I believe communications should be frequent, honest and simple.

Developing effective relationships is vital, too. I think a lot of people forget when you have a relationship with an organisation, it’s with the people within it.

Whilst it might sound obvious, listening skills are very important. If you think about our current situation, senior leaders need to understand how it’s impacting staff, their families and their lives. You only get that from listening.

You also need to take risks, and that’s something we’re very good at in Life. As a not-for-profit independent trust, we have a lot of autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit. We used that to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic to become an NHS large vaccination centre.

Taking risks fits with my next attribute, which is thinking outside the box. Despite being a not-for-profit, we think commercially at Life. By making a profit we can improve and expand the job we do – and do it better. That’s why it’s key to learn from other sectors and other businesses.

If I wasn’t chief executive of Life, I’d like to be either a wildly successful criminal barrister, or a wildly successful crime fiction writer. I’m always told only a small handful of people become successful criminal barristers. I’d definitely want to be one of the rich ones.

Linda Conlon is Chief Executive of the International Centre for Life, which opened in May 2000, with the purpose of inspiring everyone in North East England to explore and enjoy science and to discover its relevance to their own lives.

Linda is the first woman from Europe to be elected as Chair of the Association of Science and Technology Centres (ASTC), a body which represents more than 600 centres from over 50 countries. Linda is also a former board member of Ecsite, the European network of science centres and museums, and former Chair of its UK equivalent.

In recognition of her outstanding service to science and science education in North East England, she was awarded an MBE in January 2016.

www.life.org.uk

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Delivering apprenticeships during the coronavirus pandemic

Abigail Cook joined NEL Fund Managers in 2017 as a Level 2 Administration Apprentice. On completion of her Level 2, Abigail immediately progressed to Level 4, which she successfully completed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Yvonne Gale, Chief Executive Officer of NEL Fund Managers, and Abigail Cook, Investment Associate at NEL Fund Managers, discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on apprenticeships, and how organisations have adapted to ensure apprentices and employers continue to benefit from this important route to employment.

Yvonne Gale, Chief Executive Officer

What immediate impact did the coronavirus pandemic have on the delivery of Abigail’s apprenticeship?

At the time when the coronavirus pandemic began, Abigail was right at the end of her Level 4 apprenticeship. At that stage there’s a final completion assessment that includes observation in the workplace.

Obviously that couldn’t happen, so the main disruption was the timescale for moving Abigail onto her Level 7 apprenticeship. We couldn’t get the paperwork signed off on Level 4, so we couldn’t get her enrolled for Level 7.

We were also in the process of moving to a new specialist training provider who could deliver Level 7. The new provider was unable to enroll Abigail onto the new apprenticeship programme until they had official sign off the Level 4 NVQ, and that was on a backlog of around six-eight weeks.

It was just unlucky timing as that was in March/April 2020.

Did NEL Fund Managers benefit from continuing the apprenticeship during the coronavirus pandemic?

Abigail is currently in a developmental role and we know it’s really important that she keeps getting opportunities to learn so putting her apprenticeship on hold could have affected its momentum and her motivation. We were keen COVID-19 didn’t disrupt that and that we could keep it moving forward.

I actually spent a lot of time working with the new training provider, Kaplan, to make sure it could continue. During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic everything was temporarily disrupted and for people in a developmental role it’s important they don’t feel like they’re going to be left on the sidelines. Apprenticeships could have been something that was easily left on the shelf but we didn’t want to do that; we felt it was really important to keep pushing to make sure it continued.

Why has NEL Fund Managers chosen to invest in apprenticeships?

There are multiple reasons. NEL Fund Managers does a lot of technical work and we need technical skills. Whilst the Level 4 apprenticeship has given Abigail a good grounding we spotted an opportunity for her to move from an administration role to a technical role.

Although we do a lot of learning in the workplace, I think it’s really important people have external learning as well. People in a developmental role will bring improvements to processes as they go, so if they’re only learning in the workplace, where are they going to get that knowledge? We really want people to experience that cross-pollination from training in the workplace in addition to the external perspectives offered through an apprenticeship.

Another reason is that NEL Fund Managers focuses a lot of emphasis on staff retention; over 50% of our staff has been with us for ten years or more. You can’t just assume people will stay, you have to offer them progression and the best way to do that is through training. We’ve got a very long history of that at NEL Fund Managers; everyone in the business has done a lot of training. We’re keen to support people who want to continue to learn and develop because we want to keep those members of staff and we want to keep their skills too.

The other benefit is that apprenticeships offer a structured programme and for small businesses, it’s quite difficult to deliver a three-year structured training programme. Going onto a planned apprenticeship means someone takes on the care of that structured programme for us, and makes sure it happens.

Abigail’s apprenticeship is in accounting and we have several accountants here in the business and that have all learnt through the apprenticeship route. We know it works and there’s tradition there. Because we benefitted from it, we want the next generation to benefit from it too.

Abigail Cook, Investment Associate

What changes did you have to adapt to in order to complete your Level 4 during lockdown?

Towards the end of my Level 4 there was a series of final observations that had to be done. My assessor, Olivia, couldn’t come and visit in person so we had to think of new ways to get the observations done, and that was mainly through Zoom and Microsoft Teams. We had professional discussions that were then recorded and uploaded to the portal that stores evidence of all my work.

I redid one module for my technical certificate and found I actually had more time to do research as I had fewer personal commitments because of lockdown.

Did you find it challenging to move to a home learning / working model?

It wasn’t necessarily challenging, just very different. I’m mainly office based unless I’m attending meetings, and my bedroom has turned into a home office, which is working well now. There were some challenges at the beginning with parents and younger siblings all working/studying from home, and we invested in some new WIFI.

A lot of the work we do at NEL Fund Managers, such as getting wet signatures on documents and having investment files signed off, had to be adapted to be digitised, and that took a lot of work initially. But since then it’s a case of pressing a button and sending it off via email to someone. It was challenging at first but we’ve all adapted to the new processes we’ve developed.

Doing some of the technical learning at home has been hard as normally you might want to sit with someone to go through it. When we are doing revision sharing now it’s about sharing screens on Teams. As a learner I’d prefer to do some of that in person.

The Zoom sessions we’ve been doing have been really interactive but it’s not quite the same as being sat in a classroom being able to ask your peers questions.

Yvonne Gale – We actually picked Kaplan as they were the only training provider that could offer us classroom learning in Newcastle. It’s a three-year programme so I’m hopeful we can go back to a classroom model. Abigail, and our other accounting apprentice, Mike, actually requested classroom learning when we were looking at providers so it’s a shame we’re not able to offer people their preferred method of learning at the moment.

Why did you choose to complete an apprenticeship over another route to employment?

I originally went to sixth form after doing my GCSEs to study AS levels but after my first year I questioned why I was doing them. At the time I also had a part time job and was enjoying the work ethic, as oppose to full-time study.

I saw the Level 2 apprenticeship advertised at NEL Fund Managers and even though it was a very different environment, after my interview I thought ‘yes, I’d like to work here’. Thankfully Yvonne and Suzanne took me on, which was great.

An apprenticeship allows me work and earn whilst I’m studying. Being in secure employment – as opposed to a university experience with a part time job and a lot of debt – seemed really attractive to me.

It was also encouraging to learn other people in NEL Fund Managers have been apprentices as well. That showed me there is a lot of scope for development here and NEL Fund Managers – as an employer – are very encouraging.

Yvonne Gale – Abigail has gone from working part time in hospitality to doing a postgraduate qualification in four years – and she’s skipped all the student debt.

The apprenticeship system really works for us as an employer too. The course she’s currently doing – had we been paying that ourselves – would cost £20k. For a small business that’s a huge amount of money. Because of the apprenticeship system we’ve been able to get that for 5% of the cost – so it costs us £1k for a £20k piece of training.

And Abigail is getting £20k worth of training, and she’s not having to pay for it.

What are your career aspirations moving forward?

Ideally I’d like to move into more of an investment executive role, managing my own investment opportunities and working with yet more growing local businesses. I’m definitely getting the skills I need through my apprenticeship. The amount I’ve learned is really helping me develop in my current role.

I’d like to finish the current apprenticeship in the next three years and move into a permanent investment executive role. In the long term I’d like to continue at NEL Fund Managers and see what other progression opportunities there are.

Find information and guidance for businesses on hiring an apprentice on the North East Growth Hub Apprenticeship Toolkit.

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North East LEP welcomes Government’s Skills for Jobs white paper

The North East LEP welcomes the Skills for Jobs: lifelong learning for opportunity and growth white paper published by the Department for Education today [Thursday 21 January 2021].

The white paper sets out reforms to post-16 technical education and training to support people to develop the skills needed to get good jobs and improve national productivity.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, said: “We are particularly pleased to see that the reforms take into consideration some of those recommended from the Independent Commission for the Future of Colleges. It’s crucial that employers are given a pivotal role in working with general further education colleges, other training providers and local stakeholders to meet local and regional skill needs, and ultimately achieve our ambition of more and better jobs.

“This, together with the spotlight on technical education and announcement of a flexible lifetime skills guarantee enables us to continue to build upon existing partnerships in the North East LEP area. We are well placed to support and drive this agenda owing to our Chair of Board, Lucy Winskell and Skills Advisory Panel Chair, Ellen Thinnesen, being local and national leaders in the Higher and Further Education sectors respectively. It also enables us to build upon our investment into the region’s first Institute of Technology.”

Kim Smith, College Hub Facilitator, added: “Engagement between education and enterprise is a key strength across employer stakeholders and educational partners in the North East LEP area and we look forward to hearing more about the trailblazer opportunities for piloting local skills improvement plans and establishing College Business Centres.”

For more information, and to read the Skills for jobs white paper in full, visit gov.uk.

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Excelsior Academy pupils impress HRH The Duke of Kent with project showcase exhibition

As part of a two day visit to the North East, HRH The Duke of Kent, met students and teachers from Excelsior Academy at a showcase exhibition in his capacity as Royal Patron of the Edge Foundation.

The visit included a showcase by pupils on a project set for them through the Edge Future Learning initiative. Pupils embarked on projects aligned to one of the main economic growth sectors in the North East. They worked in teams to solve real problems, helping them to develop transferable skills like team working and problem solving. These experiences provided cross-curricular learning supported by STEM experts from the businesses.

Pupils from Year 7 showcased projects on;

  • Climate change and renewable energy, working alongside Northern Gas Networks, Northumbrian Water and the Port of Blyth.
  • Housing and community needs, in partnership with New Tyne West Development Company and Newcastle University.
  • Supporting vulnerable friends in the community as part of a continuing relationship with the People’s Kitchen.

Meanwhile, students from Year 8 showcased the work they have been completing with the Atlantic Dream Challenge – focusing on how local men, Paul Hopkins and Phil Pugh recently achieved the challenge of a lifetime, rowing across the Atlantic Ocean for charity.

Edge Future Learning is an initiative set up by the education charity, the Edge Foundation who are working to shape the future of education. The initiative has been running in the North East since 2018. The Edge Foundation leads the development of EFL, working with two Founding Partners – Ford Next Generation Learning and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Alice Barnard, Chief Executive, the Edge Foundation, said:

“Project based learning like this helps prepare young people for life and work in the 21st Century. Students and staff at Excelsior Academy have worked extremely hard on these projects. Showcasing their work is an important part of students’ learning and development so we are delighted that our Royal Patron, The Duke of Kent was able to join us for this important celebration.”

David Thornton, Executive Principal, Excelsior Academy, said:

“Excelsior Academy is proud to be one of a few schools in the North East that is piloting this new approach to learning and by bringing learning to life we hope to transform outcomes for our students. The Showcase Exhibition presents a fantastic opportunity for students to be able to present their work to The Duke of Kent.”

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“By developing their approaches to careers learning, schools and colleges in the North East are focused on ensuring all young people gain the skills they need for their future. Building and sustaining relationships with employers and partners enables teachers to apply context and purpose to lesson content, engage students with the subject and help them understand real-world situations. Since introducing Edge Future Learning principles, teachers have seen an improvement in students’ motivation, oracy, teamwork and overall confidence.”

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In conversation with Matt Joyce, Regional Lead – North East Ambition at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, about National Careers Week

Careers education and guidance, and how it is delivered in schools and colleges, has been transformed in recent years.

The introduction of the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks and the closer relationship between industry and education has given young people a better understanding of the world of work and the various pathways open to them, including apprenticeships and traineeships.

Careers education and guidance has become an increasingly important part of school and college curriculums; helping students make more informed decisions about their future lives.

This National Careers Week at the North East LEP, we’re celebrating some of the ways our schools and colleges are putting a focus on careers guidance to improve opportunities for young people and ensure businesses have access to a skilled and talented workforce for the future.

Launched in 2017, North East Ambition builds on the success of the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot in the North East LEP region by supporting every school and college to adopt, implement and achieve the eight benchmarks by the year 2024. We’re currently working with more than 160 schools and colleges as part of the region-wide initiative to help improve outcomes for all young people, regardless of their starting points or backgrounds. This includes helping to support the region’s SEND schools and ensuring employers recognise the value SEND students can bring to their organisations.

Within North East Ambition are a number of programmes designed to improve careers guidance in schools and colleges. The Enterprise Adviser Network, for example, embeds business leaders into secondary schools and colleges to help shape the delivery of careers education. More than 140 business leaders are enrolled on the programme, representing a diverse range of industries key to the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan.

Our Education Challenge programme currently works with five secondary schools and one college to support teachers, school leaders and governors to integrate an understanding of the world of work and career opportunities into the curriculum. The North East LEP’s successful partnership with Ford Next Generation Learning has helped bring the workplace and classroom closer together, giving students the chance to work with local employers on real life projects.

All of this work has helped bridge the gap between education and business so our young people are more aware of the career opportunities available across the region, the routes into them, and the skills and expertise employers need.

The North East LEP, working in partnership with EY Foundation, is also leading a pilot programme looking at how the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks can be adapted for a primary setting. Our North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is designed to build careers aspiration and inspiration from an early age. We’re currently working with 70 primary schools from across the North East LEP region to see if introducing the Benchmarks can help sow the seeds of ambition from an early age. We’re seeing very promising results so far.

National Careers Week is a fantastic opportunity to share some of the amazing work taking place across the North East LEP region to educate and inform young people about the career opportunities available to them so they can all fulfil their potential and enjoy rewarding and successful lives.

Please follow our Twitter account, @northeastlep, or connect with us on LinkedIn, to take part and show your support for National Careers Week.

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In conversation with Sian Browne, Head of Innovation and School to Works Lead at EY Foundation, about the progress of the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot

I’ve just returned from my latest visit to the North East to see, in person, the impact the North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is having in our participating schools.

I can’t believe the first term has finished and we are well into term two! It was fantastic to see how the programme is already having an impact, with some terrific stories emerging from the 70 schools taking part.

We’re delivering the pilot in partnership with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP). The aim is to test how the eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, which form part of statutory guidance for secondary schools in England about how to deliver impactful and effective careers guidance, can be adapted for a primary school setting.

The pilot was launched in recognition of the fact children can start to make career limiting decisions as early as five years old. We hope to change that by sowing the seeds of ambition from an early age.

One highlight from my day in the North East was a visit to Bothal Primary School, which focuses on STEM learning. The school is an inspiring example of new, innovative thinking to engage pupils and industry. Incredibly, the school has a whole wing devoted to STEM, with great facilities, such as 3D printers.

Local and global businesses are providing support, with a BMW room next to the AkzoNobel inspiration suite. This is providing a great environment for pupils to understand the skills needed for different careers and to realise there is more to getting a good job than academic qualifications.

My next stop was Lingey House Primary School, which is developing new ways to support ‘career related learning’ through workbooks. These are used to demonstrate the huge range of career options available in different subject areas. For example, working in creative arts and design can lead to becoming a fashion designer, a photographer, a fine artist, a make-up artist, an animator, a dancer, an illustrator and many more. All these roles are described in detail, setting out what the job entails, the qualifications needed and salary expectations.

To bring career options to life, I saw that lots of schools in the pilot are inviting people working in different roles to come in and talk about their job. It’s a great way to engage and inspire the next generation.

A final example of how a school is responding to the challenge of building interest in future work is Percy Main Primary School in North Shields. They are working with a local museum to give the children an opportunity to role play a wide variety of the jobs available within the sector from archaeologist to receptionist. Their parents were then invited in to see their children in action, which is so important in terms of building involvement and engagement in this project.

I can’t wait until my next trip in April to find out what happens next in the schools I’ve been lucky enough to visit. But in the meantime, please look out for more wonderful case studies from this project. They’ll be hosted on the North East Ambition website and available on the EY Foundation social media channels.

The North East Ambition Career Benchmarks: Primary Pilot is supported by funding from the European Social Fund, EY Foundation and the Local Growth Fund.

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In conversation with Neil Willis, Regional Lead, Education Challenge at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

In conversation with Neil Willis, Regional Lead, Education Challenge at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, reflecting on the impact Opportunity North East has had so far, and looking forward to its next phase.

For the past year, we (the North East Local Enterprise Partnership) have been working with colleagues from Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) to develop a joint approach to support a strand of The Department for Education’s pioneering Opportunity North East (ONE) programme.

Designed to ensure all pupils have the same opportunities to learn, develop and achieve success, regardless of their background or where they live, Opportunity North East is an absolute determination that no child should be left behind.

It’s fantastic to see to see The Department for Education has unveiled its delivery plan for the next phase of Opportunity North East (ONE), which includes a £24 million investment to tackle the challenges facing some of our region’s lowest-performing schools.

This significant investment will mean we can continue to work in partnership with Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) to ensure a consistent approach and maximum impact for young people across our region.

Since the programme began, we’ve worked with 28 ONE Vision schools to help identify the complex challenges and barriers that can hinder pupils’ success. This next phase will build on our work to date so we can provide even more support to all 28 schools.

Looking forward to the next phase

The latest Opportunity North East Delivery Plan sets out five main challenges that exist across the region. Our area of focus will be to lead work around Challenge 4, supporting our young people to find pathways to a good career.

Currently, the North East is the region with the lowest percentage of young people in a sustained education, employment or training destination after key stage 4 and key stage 5. That’s something we need to change.

To help us do that, we’ve worked with all 28 ONE Vision schools to understand how we can help make a difference to young people when it comes to securing employment, apprenticeships or moving to further education. Thanks to the feedback we’ve received, we plan to deliver an enhanced offer of careers and business engagement support for these ONE Vision schools, including plans for monitoring impact. Pupils will benefit from a programme of support that really makes a difference to their lives.

We’ll be working with partners including the Department for Education, our universities and local employers, as well as with our colleagues in Tees Valley, to collectively and intensively support up to 30 young people from each school into sustained education, employment or training.

Pupils will be supported from Year 9 right through to the end of Year 11. They’ll get access to high quality destinations guidance, personalised interventions and one to one guidance to support them in their next steps, including the opportunities available to them.

Our target is that by 2022, all ONE Vision schools will have achieved all eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks and we’ll see an increased percentage of young people from those schools in a sustained education, employment or training destination after key stage 4 and key stage 5.

This, of course, is in addition to work we’re already doing through North East Ambition; supporting every school and college in the North East to achieve the eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, as well as through our Education Challenge and Ford Next Generation Learning Programmes – supporting teachers, school leaders and governors to integrate an understanding of the world of work and career opportunities into the curriculum.

We want each and every young person in our region to have the best possible start to their working life, and we are determined that no pupil will be left behind.

We can’t wait to get started on the next phase of this incredibly important work.

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In conversation with Matt Joyce, Regional Lead for North East Ambition, about the importance of connecting careers guidance to employment opportunities.

A report published this week (22 January 2020) by the Education and Employers charity, highlights concerns around a gap between the career aspirations of young people in the UK and the reality of the labour market.

It calls for more to be done to address an ‘aspiration-reality disconnect’ in the UK – where the ambitions of our young people don’t match the jobs that are out there.

Recommendations include more support for careers guidance at secondary school level and better labour market information for young people. The report also calls for a significant expansion of career-related learning at primary level.

Here in the North East, we’re already working with partners to achieve all these aims – and have been for some time.

We recently expanded our work to primary level, working with the EY Foundation on a pilot to explore what good career guidance looks like across all phases of primary education, including how schools can connect with local employers to offer primary pupils a range of age-appropriate, meaningful encounters with the world of work. We want to support children to be ambitious from the earliest possible age and start challenging any limiting beliefs they have about themselves, based on their gender or socio-economic background.

The primary pilot is just one strand of our North East Ambition programme, which is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and led by the North East LEP working with partners. Through North East Ambition, we’re also actively supporting all the region’s secondary schools and colleges to meet the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks – placing a strong emphasis on engagement with employers, experiences of the workplace and linking learning to labour market information and the region’s employment sectors.

North East Ambition is integral to our work around skills development and the delivery of our Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) for the North East. Our ultimate aim is to ensure that our young people leave education or training with the skills, qualifications and personal qualities that employers look for. To achieve that, we need real involvement from employers in our schools and colleges, so they can help to shape a future talent pipeline.

If we want to support our young people to understand the realities of the workplace, the expectations of employers and the opportunities open to them, it’s vital that we connect education and employment at every opportunity.

Matt Joyce, Regional Lead, North East Ambition.

Watch now – Meaningful encounters: Year 6 pupils from Bexhill Primary Academy, Sunderland visit advanced manufacturing employer Unipres to discover more about the world of work.

Watch now – Learning from LMI: Year 9 students from Norham High School explore four key regional employment sectors, the roles within them and the skills and qualifications you might need.

You can find out more about what we’re achieving through North East Ambition by visiting northeastambition.co.uk

North East Ambition is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).