CEC Still to Persuade Majority of Schools to Engage with FE and HE

The following article by Bill Camden was published in FEWEEK

Less than half of the schools in the government’s multi-million pound network of careers hubs have met a target for providing “encounters with further and higher education”.

A report published today by the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) shows that while more schools are meeting the eight Gatsby benchmarks for good careers guidance, progress towards full compliance remains slow.


“Encounters with further and higher education” is the seventh benchmark and sets a target for every pupil by the age of 16 to have had a “meaningful encounter with providers of the full range of learning opportunities, including sixth forms, colleges, universities and apprenticeship providers”, which should include the “opportunity to meet both staff and pupils”.

But today’s CEC data shows that just 47 per cent of the more than 2,000 schools in the quango’s careers hubs fully achieved the target by March 2020.

The figure was even lower when the CEC looked at achievements in its whole network of 4,000 schools and colleges – where 26 per cent met the target by the same period. For those schools not in the CEC’s network, 13 per cent met the target.

The findings chime with concerns from the education select committee about non-compliance with the Baker Clause – a law introduced in January 2018 that stipulates schools must ensure a range of FE providers have access to pupils from year 8 to year 13 to provide information on technical education and apprenticeships.

The committee questioned Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman on this issue during a hearing this week. Spielman said inspectors have found examples of non-compliance in schools and pledged to give careers guidance the “attention it deserves” when inspections restart.

Asked why they thought schools were struggling to provide encounters with FE providers for pupils, a CEC spokesperson said: “There has been sustained improvement in the number of young people having encounters with further and higher education. This improvement represents a threefold increase over two years.

“These are rigorous and demanding standards for schools and colleges. In order to achieve the criteria, they must achieve a range of measures such as meeting a full range of FE and HE providers and information about a broad range of apprenticeships.”

Today’s CEC report shows that overall national performance towards all eight of the Gatsby benchmarks has doubled since 2016/17 – schools and colleges have moved from achieving 1.87 of them on average to 3.75 as of March 2020.

Progress is higher when looking only at schools and colleges in career hubs – they are achieving 4.8 of the target on average.

The other benchmarks that appear to be proving most difficult to meet include “a stable careers programme” and “addressing the needs of each student”.

The CEC has come under fire in recent years from high-profile people in the sector like education select committee chair Robert Halfon, who has accused the quango of making little progress in improving careers education in England despite receiving millions from the public purse.

The first 20 careers hubs, for example, launched in 2018 and were backed with £5 million, covering 710 schools and colleges. A further 19 opened or expanded in 2019 and were given with £2.5 million as the programme scaled up to cover 1,300 schools and colleges.

An additional 882 schools and colleges joined the programme in September 2020 backed with an extra £2 million.

Figures obtained by FE Week’s sister title Schools Week last year revealed that the CEC itself had received lmost £100 million since launching in 2014 to boost provision.

Careers hubs comprise colleges working with local schools and universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to pool their expertise on improving careers education in their area.

They include a “hub lead” who works with school and college leaders to provide “strategic support” on their careers plan and access to business networks, as well their delivery against the Gatsby benchmarks.

The hubs also have “careers leaders”, who offer face-to-face careers training to schools and colleges.

A CEC spokesperson said: “The evidence shows performance on this measure is significantly better in CEC’s Careers Hubs and network, proving that targeted investment has accelerated progress.”

Careermap & The Careers and Enterprise Company Free CPD Webinar
October 7, 2019
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Careermap in collaboration with The Careers and Enterprise Company are hosting a live webinar aiming to help schools and colleges to achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks so they can begin applying them to their Careers Strategy.

This informative webinar will take place on Wednesday 16 October 2019 at 4pm

It’s completely free to join and thanks to technology, you can join anywhere, all you’ll need is a WiFi and a device which can be connected to it. Book below but don’t forget to come back to find out more about what the event will entail. 

Once you have booked you’ll later receive the login details closer to the time. Have a question? Want more information? You can email info@careermap.co.uk to find out more! 

Christine Hodgson Chairman of The Careers and Enterprise Company and CEO of Capgemini will be speaking at this event and sharing invaluable insights on how Career Leaders and teachers can create a careers programme which is stable (Gatsby Benchmark #1). 

What Will the Webinar Include?

The Careers and Enterprise webinar will include a detailed explanation focusing on how you can embed a stable careers programme which pinpoints the key principles of career education and guidance and how you can ensure pupils, teachers, employers and parents fully understand it. The CPD webinar event will also include:

  • An introduction from Sharon Walpole, Careermap Director
  • An introduction to Christine Hodgson, Chairman of The Careers and Enterprise Company
  • What is involved in a stable careers programme
  • How this can be included in day to day lessons
  • A review of the resources The CEC has available to support Careers Leaders
  • Opportunity for you to take part in the discussion and lead the way with a live Q&A

Sign Up Here

Sir John Holman: Good Career guidance. How Are We Doing? 11 July 2019
August 29, 2019
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Helping You to Meet the #GatsbyBenchmarks
July 29, 2019
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Are you a career leader or a teacher?

Need to embed careers in the curriculum? Careermap has you covered with their informative CPD webinar series aiming to help you to succeed at providing high quality career guidance. 

Who Are the Free Gatsby Benchmark Webinars For? 

Whether you’re a teacher, Career Leader or career adviser, you’ll be more than welcome to join the interactive live event. Join the event and you’ll be part of a deep discussion offering practical advice and discovering how to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks. 

Worldwide respected employers, industry experts and leaders are all involved in the webinars alongside Director of Careermap, Sharon Walpole.

Careermap recognises that there is a strong requirement for career advice and guidance in schools, colleges and Sixth Forms.

Underpinning the purpose of the Gatsby Benchmarks and implementing them into your career strategy is a necessity to enabling young people to make well informed choices about their future. 

What Can You Expect?

Hosting the event will be Sharon Walpole, Director of Careermap and sector expert. As a well known panellist with more than 15 years experience in the industry, Sharon is highly respected for her expertise. Sharon has also enjoyed a fulfilling career as an FE college lecturer. 

Sharon has a strong knowledge of all career pathways and the webinars will also feature skills sector organisations, industry experts and top employers including:

Click on the name of the event your interested in to find out more about each one. You can also book your tickets to the event – it’s free!

Cost and Location

The Careermap CPD webinar series is completely free and you don’t need to limit your options as you pick multiple events. However, this works on a first come first served basis so book today to avoid any disappointment. 

Once you’ve booked we’ll be in touch closer to the time with your login details. Should you have any queries in the meantime you can email for more information.  

Who is Careermap? 

Careermap is an online resource which connects young people, schools, colleges, universities and parents with high quality career advice and guidance. 

Careermap release informative webinars, powerful and insightful Careermag, interactive videos and blogs based on current events and getting the edge with a firm focus on helping schools and colleges to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks

State of the Nation 2018: Careers and Enterprise Provision in England’s Schools
November 23, 2018
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The Careers & Enterprise Company State of the Nation 2018 report provides the most comprehensive assessment of careers education in England to date.

In the report you will find:

  • An assessment of how schools and colleges are performing against the eight Gatsby Benchmarks, which measure the quality of careers education and guidance
  • An assessment of progress over time among the thousand schools and colleges who have completed our Compass self-assessment tool on multiple occasions
  • An overview of how schools and colleges in different areas of the country are performing against the Benchmarks
  • A look at the factors that make a difference when it comes a school or colleges’ benchmark score

DOWNLOAD [PDF]

The Gatsby Benchmark Toolkit & the matrix Standard

This toolkit for Enterprise Advisers and Enterprise Coordinators illustrates what good looks like across all eight of the Gatsby benchmarks. It includes example case studies of best practice and useful tips and resources.

The toolkit will assist Enterprise Advisers and Enterprise Coordinators in promoting to schools how the benchmarks will help all students reach their full potential. It also contains practical ways for schools to put the benchmarks into practice. 

Page 34 – Top Tips for Schools under Benchmark 8 states Make sure the organisation you are commissioning is high-quality and matrix accredited. 

Gatsby Benchmark Toolkit – Full Document

The Gatsby Benchmarks for Colleges
The Gatsby Benchmarks have been refined to better align with the needs of young people in college, following consultation with a number of colleges across England.
Gatsby believes that every young person, in every learning environment, needs high quality career guidance to make an informed decision about their future.
Career guidance is also a vehicle for social justice: those young people without social capital or career support at home suffer most from poor career guidance.

Read more