Exclusive: Careers advice best in deprived and coastal areas

Norfolk, Suffolk and Isle of Wight among areas with best school and college careers advice, finds report

Julia Belgutay

careers advice gatsby benchmark

Schools and colleges in deprived communities and those based in coastal areas tend to perform better on careers advice, according to a new report published today.

The State of the Nation report from the Careers and Enterprise Company states schools and colleges serving communities with higher unemployment and fewer professionals “tend to score better against the [Gatsby] benchmarks”, and “schools and colleges in coastal areas also tend to do better”.

The report considers careers provision in England’s schools and colleges at the end of the academic year 2017-2018, drawing on data from over 3,000 schools and colleges that have been collected through the Compass self-assessment tool. The tool measures schools and colleges’ careers programmes in relation to the eight Gatsby Benchmarks for good careers guidance, set out by Professor Sir John Holman at the Gatsby Charitable Foundation in a 2014 report. 

The best-performing areas include coastal parts of the country which have previously been criticised for low levels of student attainment, including Hull, the Isle of Wight and the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts.

Targeting resources

The report says the better performance of institutions in deprived and coastal communities could be because “efforts to target resources are working, and that schools and colleges are prioritising careers support as a solution the social mobility challenge”. 

It explains there is a wide range of levels of performance in different local enterprise partnership (LEP) areas. “It is not clear what is driving the variation between the LEPs and we should be careful about drawing too many conclusions based on what are subtle variations in performance between very different areas.”

“The performance of the LEPs appears to be stronger in coastal and peripheral areas of the country,” the authors write, adding this could be linked to wider factors found to impact performance, such as: having used the Compass tool more than once; schools having a sixth form; or being part of the Enterprise Adviser Network. Local factors related to either geography or local policy could also be driving some of this difference.

The best-performing LEP areas, according to performance against the Gatsby Benchmarks, include: Solent; Dorset; Enterprise M3; New Anglia; Humber; Tees Valley; The Marches; Hertfordshire; and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding. In these areas, the average number of benchmarks hit varies between 2.5 and 3.1

'Long way to go'

Across the total 3,000 schools and colleges, the average number of benchmarks achieved was 2.1, and, compared to last year, the proportion of schools and colleges not achieving any benchmarks has fallen to 18 per cent (from 20.6 per cent). “The proportion achieving half has increased to 20 per cent, and 11 per cent of all schools are now achieving the majority of the benchmarks”, says the report. In total, 21 schools and colleges have achieved all eight benchmarks; overall, however, the report acknowledges there is “still a very long way to go”.

The Careers and Enterprise Company was set up in 2015 to improve careers provision in schools and colleges. To help institutions to engage with the Gatsby Benchmarks, the company worked with the foundation to develop the Compass self-assessment tool allows schools to compare their provision to both the Gatsby Benchmarks and to the provision in other schools. In December 2017, the government published its careers strategy which placed the benchmarks at the heart of the approach to careers and enterprise provision. 

The Gatsby benchmarks 

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 workplaces

7. Encounters with further and higher education

8. Personal guidance


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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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