In Skills

First bids approved for North East LEP/Gatsby National Careers Benchmark Pilot

The first North East schools leading a pilot programme have received more than £50,000 between them to help fund their innovative ideas to improve careers education – ideas that could be used across the country if they prove successful.

The proposals are part of the Gatsby Foundation National Career Benchmarks Pilot led by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP).

The projects are being funded by Lord Sainsbury’s Gatsby Foundation as part of a four-year national pilot running in the North East LEP area to test eight benchmarks of good career guidance.

North East schools and colleges were selected to test how the benchmarks can be implemented, identify any barriers to helping young people make more informed decisions about their future study and employment, and ensure that young people are better equipped with the skills employers need.

Sixteen schools and colleges in the North East LEP area are taking part in the national pilot and the findings will be rolled out across the country at the end of the project.

A total of £53,100 was approved in the first round of awards from the Innovation and Activity Fund. Pilot schools and colleges were asked to submit their innovative ideas to further develop careers education in collaboration with employers and other education providers.

Ryan Gibson, National Facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot at the North East LEP, said: “There is a real buzz around careers education in the North East LEP area. Lots of schools and colleges are using the benchmarks and making an impact on good practice at a national level.

“The Innovation and Activity Fund is supporting schools and colleges that are already participating in the pilot to develop innovative practices, systems and processes that help schools and colleges to make measurable and rapid progress towards achieving the benchmarks.

“Successful projects are those that are able to demonstrate increased partnership working, enhanced collaboration, potential wider benefit, replication and scalability.

“We’re looking for projects that use an innovative approach to address particularly challenging issues, identified by initial audits against the benchmarks. Solutions can then be tested and potentially rolled out across the country.”

The first three grants will fund projects from St Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Hebburn, Churchill Community College in Wallsend, and six schools and colleges in the newly-formed Labour Market Information working group.

The project led by St Joseph’s will look at how employer engagement programmes such as the Careers and Enterprise Company’s and North East LEP’s flagship Enterprise Adviser Programme can be successfully integrated alongside existing provision.

The project will concentrate on benchmarks targeting meaningful encounters with employers and employees and multiple experiences of workplaces.

St Joseph’s will produce a best practice guide detailing how a school can map its current provision and what it must do to effectively integrate employers across the school. This guide will be made available to every school and college in England via the North East LEP and the Gatsby Foundation.

Churchill Community College in North Tyneside will work with Northumbria University’s Multidisciplinary Innovation Unit to explore creative ways of schools and colleges providing high quality work related experiences in challenging financial environments. A series of recommendations will be made, with the most appropriate being tested by the school.

The Labour Market Information project, a collaboration between six schools and colleges, will spend two months working with young people to explore how they currently access information about job sectors, apprenticeships, vacancies and pay and how they would like to access this in the future.

This research will form a case study that will be used by the national ‘LMI for All’ data portal and will inform future thinking about how young people and their parents get better help to access important information about future career opportunities.

The national pilot, including the projects funded through the innovation fund, will be independently evaluated by the International Centre for Guidance Studies, led by Tristram Hooley, at the University of Derby.

Future funding windows will be looking for pilot schools and colleges to work in partnership with other organisations to enhance school/college ability to achieve the benchmarks and improve careers guidance provision.

The Career Benchmarks were drawn up by Professor Sir John Holman after visiting the Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, Finland, Canada and Ireland, as well as a selection of UK schools, which have strong international reputations for careers guidance and educational results. The benchmarks for creating good careers guidance are :

  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 work places
  7. Encounters with further and higher education
  8. Personal guidance
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