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Ground-breaking careers pilot inspires primary pupils 

An ambitious programme to establish and raise the standard of careers education in primary schools has made significant progress after just one year.

The Career Benchmarks Primary Pilot is a ground-breaking new project, which will raise the aspirations and broaden the horizons of North East primary school pupils.

An independent audit commissioned by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the EY Foundation has found in its first year of activity, the pilot has achieved its aims of translating and embedding the career benchmarks within primary school settings.

The report found the benchmarks are effective at helping schools to design and deliver career-related learning across all year groups, with schools designing and delivering a range of curricular and extracurricular activities across all key stages.

The pilot is running at 70 primary schools across two academic years (2019/20 and 2020/21) in all seven North East local authorities.

Funded by the North East LEP and the EY Foundation, the pilot aims to translate the eight Gatsby Good Career Guidance Benchmarks (GCG BMs) to primary school settings.

The Primary Benchmarks Pilot builds on the success of the LEP’s Good Career Guidance Benchmark Pilot in secondary schools and colleges. This pilot was recognised as transformational and the Government adopted the benchmarks as part of the National Careers Strategy.

Evidence shows that the pilot is making good progress in building the capacity of schools to deliver a consistent, comprehensive, and high-quality career education for all pupils, and that working towards a framework had a strongly positive impact.

Some 72% of schools that responded to the survey say that pupils are now aware of a more diverse range of career options, 81% that pupils better understand the links between what they are studying and future career options, and 89% that pupils are able to talk more about their career plans.

At least one school has fully achieved each of the eight benchmarks. There has been a levelling up during the first year, meaning that success is not linked to a school’s Ofsted rating. Covid-19 has had an impact on the pilot but it has not stopped progress.

Lucy Winskell OBE, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “It is wonderful that so much progress has already been made during the first year of our Career Benchmarks Primary Pilot.

“An effective early careers programme is vital as research has shown by the age of six, young people are beginning to form opinions about what they cannot do. By age 10 young people are beginning to make career limiting decisions, which solidify by age 14.

“The Career Benchmarks Primary Pilot aims to deliver sustainable improvements in the capacity of schools to deliver a consistent, comprehensive, and high-quality career education for all pupils that meet the standards of the benchmarks.

“In turn this should positively impact on student outcomes and school culture and show our young people that there is a world of opportunities available to them and anything is possible.”

Jodie McNally, Head of Young people Services at EY Foundation, said: “I am delighted with the progress made by the Career Benchmarks Primary Pilot. Over the next year, I’m looking forward to seeing further progress, with pilot schools continuing to achieve the Benchmarks. In addition, the development of resources and the creation of a ‘community of learning’, where schools share best practice, will be a great way to help pupils learn more about the world of work.”

Find out more about the Career Benchmarks Primary Pilot.