Let’s be clear, careers education is not new, and nor is the practice of employers engaging with schools and colleges.
But for decades it has been languishing as a ‘nice to do’ activity in schools without a clear blueprint for what works or how to achieve excellence.
Then in came the Gatsby Benchmarks.
The Gatsby Benchmarks have been a game changer
For the first time, a clear set of standards for excellent careers education was adopted nationally, with educationalists, employers and careers providers all aligned around these principles, based on international good practice.
The Gatsby Benchmarks have been a game changer in terms of schools recognising the elements needed to create an outstanding careers programme for their students. But for many they understood the ‘what’ but not the ‘how’.
Careers Hubs up and down the country are bridging that gap
In just two years we’ve seen a seismic shift in the way careers education is being delivered. From the start of our pilot of 700 schools in 2018, we now have 45 per cent of all mainstream schools and colleges in England in a Careers Hub. All benefitting from improved levels of consistency and quality in the support they receive.
Careers Hubs build on the tried and tested model of partnership and collaboration where the Hub is the centre point of a localised careers offer, accessible to all mainstream schools and colleges across that geography.
Local leadership is critical
Our strategic partners in the Careers Hubs are the Local Enterprise Partnerships, Combined Authorities and Local Authorities who drive the agenda locally. We believe this local leadership is critical in ensuring that the Hub outcomes are rooted in the local economic development and skills strategy. Essentially, we’re aiming to bridge the gap between careers inputs in education and longer-term economic outcomes.
Through joining a Careers Hub, we’re enabling schools and colleges to receive professional guidance in how to develop their careers programme, peer to peer support and learning in what works, access to funding and coordinated activity. The Hubs are incubators for innovation, taking our national mantra of test, learn and adapt and applying that locally.
Nationally, we’ve created a network of Careers Hubs, bringing together the Hub leaders regularly to review progress, share good practice, collaborate and innovate. All of which is accelerating progress rapidly. We’ve seen this in the data showing increasingly strong performance against the Gatsby Benchmarks, with schools in Hubs outperforming non-Hub schools - progressing at twice the level over the last two years.
Excitingly, we’re still in the foothills of Careers Hub development. Our goal is to ensure that every mainstream schools and college is England can be a member of a Careers Hub and we have an ambitious programme to reach this scale over the next few years.
And so the Hub evolution continues...
We will continue to drive innovation through the Hub network, testing theories of what works, backed up by evidence and spreading this innovation nationally.
A robust school led peer-to-peer review process, akin to a school improvement model, is being trialled this year in a small number of Hubs. This will help us to bring consistency in the application of the Gatsby Benchmarks, without stifling creativity or creating a one size fits all approach to careers education, which we believe would be a backwards step.
We know that schools care about careers education. Engagement with our work over the last five years has clearly demonstrated this and we’ve been humbled by the unswerving dedication of teachers and school leaders in ensuring that each and every pupil in their schools gets the careers education they deserve.
We will continue to ensure that our Careers Hubs provide the infrastructure and leadership to do just this so that excellent, impactful careers education is the norm.
Clare Hutchinson, Director of Network, The Careers & Enterprise Company