The Gatsby Benchmarks are a framework of 8 guidelines that define excellent career guidance, which the Department of Education (DfE) expects schools and colleges to meet by the end of 2020. Not to be mistaken, the DfE explains that the benchmarks ‘are not a statutory framework but by adopting them, schools can be confident that they are fulfilling their legal duties’. In other words, the benchmarks will help school measure and improve their career provision. However, no government action will be taken towards schools that don’t comply.
The benchmarks reveal the first attempt to integrate career guidance into every educational institution across the United Kingdom – schools are tasked to guide pupils through their career planning, to distribute unbiased and professional information about the labour market; create the opportunities for professional networking; and organise educational experiences that would help students reflect on a variety of professional and academic pathways. Career guidance that was previously a responsibility of a pupil, their family or local community is becoming a ‘legal duty’ of every school - a service that should be available to all young people regardless of their social background.
As Sir John Holman, the author of the Gatsby benchmarks describes:
‘I first realised the importance of career guidance when I was a headteacher. Many young people rely on their parents and families to guide them through school and beyond, towards a fruitful career. But even the best-informed families may give incomplete or even stereotyped advice. School is the place where all students, whatever their family background, can get unbiased information, advice and guidance on the whole range of career pathways.'
The requirements are broken down into 8 benchmarks:
-Does your school have a structured careers programme that would be backed by the senior management team?
-Has your school chosen a careers leader to oversee the implementation of the program?
-Has your school published the program online for everyone to access it?
-Does your school know how it will track and evaluate the outcomes of the program?
-Do your students have access to the information about future study options and labour market information?
-Do your students’ parents have access to the same information?
-Does your school keep records of the advice that were given to pupils and subsequent agreed decisions?
-Do all your students have access to these records?
-Does your school have accurate records for each pupil on their education, employment or training destinations for at least 3 years after they leave school?
-Are your students aware of the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide variety of career pathways?
-Have your students had at least one meaningful encounter with an employer by the age of 11?
-Have your students had at least one experience of a workplace by the age of 16, in addition to any part-time jobs they may have?
-Have your students had at least two such experiences by the age of 18?
-Have your students had a chance to meet the staff and pupils of Sixth Forms,colleges, universities or apprenticeship providers by the age of 16?
-Have your students had at least two visits to universities by the age of 18?
-Have your students had an interview with a career advisor by 16, and two such interviews by the of 18?
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