Gatsby Benchmarks

The Gatsby Benchmarks provide a robust and high-quality framework for Career/Preparation for Adulthood guidance. They help to deliver a system of high aspirations for all pupils in all settings. We have been working closely with the Careers and Enterprise Company to understand how the Benchmarks can be implemented for pupils within SEND schools.

The National Careers Strategy and Young People with SEND

‘The National Careers Strategy makes it very clear that ALL young people including those with SEND are to be supported to achieve their optimum career outcome. For young people with SEND, the activities should be differentiated using your professional judgement as you would do in every activity you plan for your pupils’. 

‘The SEND Gatsby Toolkit identifies the specific responsibilities all schools have to deliver both the National Careers Strategy and Statutory Guidance, and to consider the widest range of possible career options;

    • Raise aspirations of students, their families and staff to start from the presumption of paid work;
    • Help parents/families engage more
    • Increase authentic and meaningful employer encounters
    • Differentiate careers activities as appropriate; Improve career development for the most vulnerable
    • Use 16-19 bursaries if possible (or 19+ for those with an EHC Plan)
    • Facilitate career decisions based on a young person’s aspirations, abilities and needs
    • Ensure careers (personal) guidance is differentiated and Careers Advisers’ skills are developed
    • Named Careers Advisers are encouraged to build longer term relationships with students and use EHC Plans as a lever
    • The Careers Programme should reflect how the broadest range of students needs and career destinations will be met
    • Families, Parents and Carers to be more supported to access relevant careers information including the Local Offer
    • Personalised Career and Personal Development planning remains at the heart of what special schools do every day

The Gatsby Benchmarks

Gatsby Benchmark 1 – A stable careers programme
What good looks like: Every school, special school and college should have an embedded programme of careers education and guidance that is known and understood by pupils, parents, teachers, governors and employers.

Every school, special school and college should have a stable, structured careers programme that has the explicit backing of the senior management team and an appropriately trained person responsible for it.

The careers programme should be published on the school’s website so students, parents, teachers and employers can access and understand it.

The programme should be regularly evaluated with feedback from students, parents, teachers and employers as part of the evaluation process.

Gatsby Benchmark 2 – Learning from career and labour market information
What good looks like: Every student and their parents/carers should have access to good quality information about future study options, labour market opportunities and the Local Offer. They will need the support of an informed adviser to make best use of available information.

By the age of 14, all students should have accessed directly/indirectly and used information about career paths and the labour market to inform their own decisions on study options.

Parents/carers should be encouraged to access and use information about labour markets, future study options and the local offer to inform their support to their children.

Career and labour market information (LMI) includes information on:

    • Career pathways and progression routes
    • Applications and interviews
    • Educational institutions, courses, qualifications, entry requirements and costs
    • Skills and occupations
    • Professional bodies
    • Employment sectors, employers, jobs, salaries and employment trends
    • Job programmes, training and apprenticeships
    • Job demands and working life
    • Financial planning.

Gatsby Benchmark 3 – Addressing the needs of each learner
What good looks like: Students have different careers guidance needs at different stages. Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each student. A school’s careers programme should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout.

    • A school’s careers programme should actively seek to challenge stereotypical thinking and raise aspirations
    • Schools should keep systematic records of the individual advice given to each student and subsequent agreed decisions
    • All students should have access to these records to support their career development
    • Schools should collect and maintain accurate data for each student on their education, training or employment destinations for at least three years after they leave school

Gatsby Benchmark 4 – Linking curriculum learning to careers
What good looks like: All teachers link curriculum learning with careers.

    • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subject teachers highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths
    • By the age of 14, every pupil has had the opportunity to learn how the different STEM subjects help people to gain entry to a wide range of careers
    • All subject teachers emphasise the importance of succeeding in English and Maths

Gatsby Benchmark 5 – Encounters with employers and employees
What good looks like: Every student should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities, including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.

    • All young people in Years 7-13 should have at least one encounter a Year by 2020, in line with the Gatsby Benchmarks
    • Meaningful encounters cover a range of activities with employers, both in and outside the school, but does not include off-site experiences of workplaces

Gatsby Benchmark 6 – Experiences of workplaces
What good looks like: Every student should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience so they can explore their career opportunities and expand their networks.

    • By the age of 16, every student should have had at least one experience of a workplace, additional to any part-time jobs they may have
    • By the age of 18, every student should have had one further such experience, additional to any part-time jobs they may have

Gatsby Benchmark 7 – Encounters with further and higher education
What good looks like: All students should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and the workplace and the Local Offer.

    • By the age of 16, every pupil should have had a meaningful encounter with a provider of the full range of learning opportunities
    • By the age of 18, all students who are considering applying for university should have had at least two visits to universities to meet staff and students

Gatsby Benchmark 8 – Personal guidance
What good looks like: This group is frequently disadvantaged in society and is the most likely group of young people to be absent or excluded from school (Ofsted, 2010). Young people with SEND are less likely to achieve both in terms of their attainment and progression and more likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training) than their peers.

    • The SEND Code of Practice 2015 finds that providing a young person with the relevant life and employability skills so that they can live in semi-independence could reduce lifetime support costs to the public by approximately £1 million
    • Specific and individualised transition planning that includes identifying potential pathways is central to the SEND Code of Practice
    • Early and ongoing support from a trusted adult is critical to effective transition

Young people with PMLD / Highly Complex Needs and using the Gatsby Benchmarks

There is a consensus that the Gatsby Benchmarks are appropriate for all students, although we recognise that some flexibility should be applied when using the Gatsby Benchmarks with students with PMLD/Highly Complex Needs.

The analysis of the Gatsby Framework using the content devised for the Special Schools version of Compass identified that the following changes could easily be made and located within a broader guidance document and the essence of all the Benchmarks themselves can stay intact:

Benchmark 1 - The content of a holistic careers programme to reflect the core themes of the Preparation for Adulthood programme including employment health, independent living, education, housing options, relationships, community.

Benchmark 2 - The aim remains the same, but the content will reflect the relevant information that the cohort and their family needs.

Benchmark 3 - The aim remains perfectly aligned and needs to refer to the multiple statutory planning processes and achieving participation of students.

Benchmark 4 - The language does need to reflect this group more strongly and the interpretation of the subjects English, Maths and Science must reflect a cross curricular approach as opposed to the hard-core subject matter.

Benchmark 5 - The aim needs to be re-framed possibly as a two-way learning for employers and the activities to reflect the types of destinations for this cohort.

Benchmark 6 - The recommendation is to follow the same approach as with Benchmark 5 with an enhanced focus on Enterprise.

Benchmark 7 - Universities / HE has already been removed and the inclusion of the wider range of destinations and young people’s transition into them need to be highlighted.

Benchmark 8 - The focus has been on generating internal qualified Careers Advisers and the advantages to their being in place for this cohort.