Setting the standards for advice and guidance

Posted 29.09.2020

For as long I can remember, careers advice within schools has faced criticism (generally unfounded).  Accessing good quality careers advice enables young people to set off on a path that matches their skills and aspirations and will hopefully result in fewer adults floundering to career plan.

The Gatsby Benchmarks go a long way to counter criticism as they are designed to raise quality standards of careers advice within educational settings.  The Gatsby Benchmarks are extremely topical having been explicitly referenced throughout the Department for Education’s Careers Strategy and the Statutory Guidance for careers.  These benchmarks are referred to everywhere in the careers world, but what are they, where have they come from and what do they mean?    

The Gatsby Benchmarks originated in a research report (Good Career Guidance) from the Gatsby Foundation in 2013.  The report was commissioned by Lord Sainsbury and Sir John Holman was appointed to lead a research team to focus on international evidence for ‘what works’ in career development.  The research provides a comprehensive study of career development exploring key elements of good career development, the cost per school for good career development and the economic benefit of career development to the economy.  Price Waterhouse Cooper were commissioned to provide the latter and summarised that the cost of every NEET individual to the government is the same amount required to provide the benchmarks to 280 pupils. The overall annual cost to the government for implementing a good careers guidance strategy is £207 million in the first year and £173 million per year thereafter.  The cost to young lives of not doing so is immense!

There are 8 benchmarks of best practice, which are now more commonly known as 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 (D2N2 LEP are committed to this aim)
  6. Experiences of workplaces
  7. Encounters with further and higher education
  8. Personal guidance

Each of the benchmarks have sub criteria for how they can be achieved.  Along with the 8 benchmarks, the report makes 10 recommendations for implementing the benchmarks.  The Department for Education initially commissioned the Careers and Enterprise Company to support schools to implement benchmark 5 – Encounters with Employers and Employees.  In addition to this the Careers and Enterprise Company have set up a local support network in each of the 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships in the form of Enterprise Coordinators and Enterprise Advisers.

FIND OUT MORE about the D2N2 Enterprise Co-ordinators and Enterprise Advisers Network

Quality information, advice and guidance (IAG) provision for adults is also vital and is embedded in our Building Better Opportunities programmes.  Notable accreditation is from Ofsted and Matrix.

The Matrix Standard is a unique quality standard for organisations to assess and measure their advice and support services which ultimately supports individuals in their choice of career, learning, work and life goals.  Framework, who deliver the Building Better Opportunities Opportunity & Change programme, retained their Matrix accreditation this year.

The Matrix Standard is the Department for Educations (DfE) standard for ensuring the quality of the delivery of information, advice and guidance and is the international quality standard for organisations that deliver information, advice and guidance either as their sole purpose or as part of the range of services they are offering.

The DfE supports the matrix standard as the quality framework for accrediting information, advice and guidance contracts including the National Careers Service, its subcontractors and other services delivered on behalf of the Education Skills Funding Agency.  It helps providers to improve their services by benchmarking against best practice and offers accreditation to those that meet the full standard.  MATRIX is an outcome based standard which means that assessors look not only at the processes used to support IAG but also at the results achieved.

Recognising Excellence provide Quality Standards and Peer Review Schemes to support professional development and continuous improvement specialists in all aspects of legal, debt and professional advice.  St. Ann’s Advice, who deliver the Building Better Opportunities Money Sorted in D2N2 programme, use the Recognising Excellence framework to ensure the quality of their services.

Recognising Excellence focuses on helping businesses undertake independent reviews of their performance by benchmarking them against internationally recognised accreditation programmes designed to grow their business.

BBO is having a significant impact on individual lives, supporting people to increase their confidence, independence and achieve their employment aspirations.

See what our participants have to say in these case studies …

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