We all want the very best futures for our sons and daughters, so parents need to be assured that secondary schools and colleges provide top-quality careers education and guidance. That’s why the Department for Education “strongly recommends” all secondary schools and colleges to work towards and achieve the national Quality in Careers Standard in its January 2023 Statutory Guidance.
If a secondary school or a college holds our national Standard, parents can be assured that it provides its students with careers education and guidance support of the quality of the best.
To achieve the Standard, schools and colleges submit their careers education and guidance programme for rigorous external assessment and accreditation by a Licensed Awarding Body – we’ve appointed several Awarding Bodies across England. All meet the same set of national requirements by our Consortium.
Our Awarding Bodies undertake assessments by an expert Careers Education & Guidance assessor (who is independent of the school or college). Assessments are made against our national assessment criteria, fully incorporating the Gatsby Benchmarks for “Good Careers Guidance” and requiring additional evidence of impact on students’ career-related learning from the careers programme. Below we report on the level of engagement of schools and colleges with the Standard and on the independent analysis of its impact on achieving the important Gatsby Benchmarks.
The Standard requires secondary schools and colleges to demonstrate that their careers programme:
- has strong leadership from the Head Teacher/Principal, the senior leadership team and the governing body
- has effective training for staff involved in planning and delivering the careers programme
- includes all pupils and students
The school or college must have an effective programme of careers education, enterprise and employability including work-related learning opportunities for students.
Employers, as well as further and higher education providers, must be involved in the programme to open up and increase students’ understanding of a wide range of options, routes and providers of apprenticeships, internships, colleges and universities.
Quality in Careers assessments are external assessments, not internal self-assessments by schools and colleges (although they do build heavily upon internal self-assessments using the Compass tool). Our expert assessors make on-site/virtual visits, meet students and require school and college leaders and staff teams to demonstrate that their careers programme will:
- educate, prepare and inspire young people as they make decisions about their future learning and work choices
- improve their motivation and aspiration
- develop their career learning skills, knowledge and attributes, and
- increase their understanding of work-based issues such as prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination and equal opportunities.
Our assessors look for key evidence of not only inputs (such as numbers of visits to employers, colleges etc) in the careers programme, but also of outcomes – the impact these have on students’ career-related learning. “Learner voice” – students themselves speaking with our assessors about their careers support by the school or college – is a crucial part of all assessments.
Our website includes details of all Award Holders of the Quality in Careers Standard and also offers case studies of best practices in schools and colleges giving more details of how the very best provide careers support for their students.
Evidence of the added value and impact of achieving the Standard: This January 2022 analysis by the Careers & Enterprise Company of the “Compass” scores for the schools and colleges holding the Standard showed:
- Education institutions accredited under the Quality in Careers Standard achieved an average of 4.6 Gatsby Benchmarks in 2020/21. This was higher than the national average for schools and colleges of 4.0 and similar to Careers Hubs.
- Schools and colleges with Quality in Careers Standard accreditation that were also in Careers Hubs achieved, on average, the highest number of Gatsby Benchmarks – 5.1. Those with accreditation that were not in a Careers Hub achieved, on average, one fewer benchmark – 4.1
So, parents can be confident that the careers support provided by secondary schools or colleges achieving the national Quality in Careers Standard will help every student to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to take control of their futures.