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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 Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, about the North East Regional Careers Leaders Network Meeting

Friday 29 November is an exciting day for us as we welcome 140 colleagues from schools and colleges across the LEP area to the first Regional Careers Leaders Network Meeting of the academic year.

Taking its turn this time in Newcastle, at St James’ Park, the event is an opportunity for us to discuss the latest developments in careers education and hear from guest speakers working in the education and careers sector. This is the largest meeting we’ve held to date, which really demonstrates the region-wide commitment to delivering quality careers education in our schools, colleges and universities.

The theme for this event is ‘Careers: The bigger picture’, and our invited keynote speaker is Steve Hailstone, Senior HMI further education and skills in the North East, who will take us through the new Education Inspection Framework and what it means for Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) in our schools and colleges.

We’ll also hear from guest speakers representing National Careers Week, NatWest and HMRC about the ways they can support careers provision in the LEP area and offer opportunities to students.

I’m personally really looking forward to the first ever screening of a new film we’ve developed in partnership with students from Norham High School in North Shields. For the past few months, students have been looking at the career opportunities available in the four sectors identified in the LEP’s North East Strategic Economic Plan as contributing to the growth of our economy – digital, advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, and energy. The film will be available to view on the North East Ambition website after the event.

We’ll also be providing an update on the North East LEP’s North East Ambition programme, including our recently launched North East Ambition: Careers Benchmarks Primary Pilot, which aims to build ambition from an early age. We’ll also be discussing how the education sector can engage with the LEP’s new Digital for Growth strategy.

There will be some interactive and collaborative activities too so colleagues have the chance to network and share some of the brilliant work they do.

Our North East Regional Careers Leaders Network Meetings are a fantastic way for careers leaders and people supporting careers education in schools, colleges and universities to come together, improve their knowledge, and learn from each other. There is a huge amount of inspiring and innovative work taking place in our region and this event is also a great opportunity to share and celebrate the achievements of colleagues helping to improve opportunities for young people in the North East.

If you’d like to join us at the next meeting, or would like to know more about careers education and North East Ambition, please visit www.northeastambition.co.uk and sign up to our opportunities bulletin, or email us via [email protected].

 The North East Regional Careers Leaders Network is supported by the European Social Fund through the North East Ambition programme. The North East Ambition programme receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.
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Improving our North East Ambition – in conversation with Marie Jobson, Churchill Community College

Thanks to Marie Jobson, Careers Leader at Churchill Community College, for providing this blog post about the launch of North East Ambition on Friday 14 July:

Friday was an amazing day. It feels as though all the elements are coming together to really drive careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) forward nationally with the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks at the heart of real change. It was fantastic to see the range and number of delegates who attended the launch of #NorthEastAmbition.

It was a privilege to share our learning and experience as a school to encourage and support other schools wherever they are with their own CEIAG planning. There was a real sense of buy-in from schools, colleges, employers and of course the North East LEP to secure good career guidance for each and every young person in the North East. It was critical to hear from CCC Executive Headteacher, David Baldwin, that “It is not about money, it is about vision and ambition”. He also highlighted that the Benchmarks framework can drive that ambition in schools and colleges.

I cannot wait to start phase two of the Benchmark journey. This will involve working with schools regionally and nationally on how we can continue to improve CEIAG provision at Churchill and how we can support others.  The latest CBI report on skills reflects green shoots in how young people are being prepared for the job market and reaffirms the need for business and education to work together to ensure young people are best prepared to fulfil their own ambitions and add to the planned growth for the region. Catherine Boland of printed.com also highlighted this at the event and underlined the need for education and business to learn each others’ language and priorities to drive forward change. As a school CEIAG lead I feel that the support of employers in the region is overwhelming and has been crucial to our success within the pilot and will be pivotal to #NorthEastAmbition

It was a proud and sobering moment to hear from young people at Churchill about how critical this work is for each and every young person. Their views on the Benchmarks and on careers education remind us all about why CEIAG has to be at the heart of each school and college.

Students from Churchill Community College give their view on careers education